Trump Appointees Urged to Bow Out of McDonald's Labor Fight

(Bloomberg) -- A union-backed group trying to win better pay for fast food workers urged two of President Donald Trump’s appointees to the National Labor Relations Board to bow out of a dispute over whether McDonald’s franchise workers were fired for supporting the “Fight for $15” movement.

The two men have a conflict of interest because both previously worked as attorneys at management-side law firms that advised franchisees on how to deal with “Fight for $15,” leaders of the union-backed movement said in a filing with the agency Tuesday.

The call by activists aligned with the Service Employees International Union for board chairman John Ring and fellow Republican panelist William Emanuel to recuse themselves comes as McDonald’s is asking the five-member panel to approve a settlement of the workers’ retaliation claims that was earlier rejected by an administrative law judge.

“It’s the board’s job to give workers a fair shake and these two members can’t do that,” said U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts who supports “Fight for $15.”

In February, conflict-of-interest issues led the labor board to throw out one of its major rulings after the agency’s inspector general found that Emanuel wrongly failed to recuse himself. Business groups argue that unions are making calls for recusals to sabotage Trump appointees.

Tuesday’s filing reflects “more of the continuing attempts to improperly slow down board decision-making and to prevent the NLRB from functioning with a Republican majority,” said Roger King, an attorney for the HR Policy Association and former partner at the firm that now represents McDonald’s before the labor board.

The National Labor Relations Board declined to comment on the recusal request. Attorneys for the board’s general counsel -- Peter Robb, another Trump appointee -- recommended in their own filing Tuesday that the board approve the McDonald’s settlement, saying that the judge who rejected it had "overstepped her role.”

A McDonald’s spokeswoman called the recusal request "nothing more than a transparent attempt to interfere with the National Labor Relations Board’s processes and prevent review of the flawed decision of the administrative law judge."

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