Sean Penn thought he had victory a few weeks ago at the National Labor Relations Board. But his attorney Mathew Rosengart is now convinced that Biden appointees at the federal agency are out to stick it to his star client—even if they have to rig a win. “This case has become a case study of an overzealous agency run amok,” Rosengart told me.
The dispute traces to the early days of the Covid pandemic, when Penn’s charitable organization, CORE, began helping people in disadvantaged communities respond to the health crisis. In July 2020, his group turned Dodger Stadium into the largest testing site in the nation, and a few months later, at Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti’s direction, it became a mass vaccination site. That’s when a New York Times reporter visited, prompting a couple anonymous readers identifying as CORE staffers to leave comments on the news site about “working 18 hour days, 6 days a week” with “a shipping container on site that is a designated space for overworked staff to go cry in.”
Soon, Penn emailed staff. It was a 2,000-plus word missive that stood up for Garcetti and talked about what was at stake, but the N.L.R.B’s. focus has become the actor’s pointed note that “any among us who don’t find themselves built in this way for the mission at hand, any of us who don’t recognize our inherent duty to prop each other up, any of us who might find themselves predisposed to a culture of complaint, have a much simpler avenue than broad-based cyber whining. It’s called quitting.”