WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the NLRB received a subpoena for certain Agency documents from the House Committee on Education and Labor. The subpoena seeks confidential and deliberative documents prepared by agency employees to advise the Board on case handling and rulemaking. These internal documents have always been protected from disclosure.
The House Committee’s subpoena is unprecedented. The NLRB has historically denied disclosure of the types of internal documents now sought by the Committee. And, it does so for good reason: disclosure of these pre-decisional documents would discourage agency employees from providing candid advice and undermine the internal deliberations of the Board. In 2011, when then-Committee Chairman John Kline requested the Obama-era Board to voluntarily produce similar documents, the NLRB successfully asserted the same confidentiality interests to the Committee.
The NLRB made every effort to work with the Committee, producing thousands of documents pursuant to dozens of requests. In addition to providing detailed justifications for withholding requested documents, the Board offered various alternatives to accommodate the Committee’s demands, including allowing Committee staff to review certain documents in camera to protect confidentiality. The NLRB remains willing to work with the Committee to provide relevant information while protecting the Agency’s legitimate confidentiality interests.
Chairman John F. Ring said: “The NLRB has been fully cooperative with the House Education and Labor Committee. The Committee knows it is not entitled to the documents it is demanding. No Board, regardless of political party, has allowed the disclosure of such deliberative matter-specific documents. This is a made-up controversy solely for political theatre.”
Established in 1935, the National Labor Relations Board is an independent federal agency that protects employees, employers, and unions from unfair labor practices and protects the right of private sector employees to join together, with or without a union, to improve wages, benefits and working conditions. The NLRB conducts hundreds of workplace elections and investigates thousands of unfair labor practice charges each year.