President Donald Trump’s pick for general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is positioned to roll back eight years of progressive labor union regulation under former President Barack Obama, The Washington Free Beacon reports.
The NLRB came under GOP control for the first time in a decade last month. With the Nov. 8 confirmation of management-side attorney Peter Robb as general counsel, the NLRB is set to issue rulings that reverse the pro-big labor decisions of Obama General Counsel Richard Griffin, one of the most progressive top labor prosecutors in recent history.
The general counsel of the NLRB has nearly unlimited authority to set the agenda for the organization. The lead prosecutor selects the complaints and cases that come before the counsel.
“What Mr. Griffin effectively did was find cases with factual scenarios to back up his arguments to get the progressive board to advance his progressive ideology,” Littler Mendelson’s Workplace Policy Institute Co-Chair Michael Lotito told the Free Beacon. “He would send out memorandums telling [regional staffers] ‘I’m specifically looking for these kinds of cases.'”
Democratic Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan believes Robb’s history of fighting unions in court is an indicator of how he will perform as general counsel, according to The New York Times.
“Let’s be clear about how Mr. Robb has chosen to spend his professional life: Helping management close plants and cut jobs, suing unions, delaying workers’ rights to collectively bargain and defending companies that violate workplace safety and fair pay laws,” Peters told TheNYT.
Robb’s largest hurdle will be dealing with the regional administrators in charge of referring complaints to the general counsel.
“The general counsel sets the tone for regional offices in terms of investigating and initiating complaints,” Fisher Phillips employer labor attorney Steve Bernstein said. “One would hope all those regions would get in line and carry out strategy just as they did with the last administration … but employers have from time to time expressed concern that they don’t see a consistent approach from one jurisdiction to the next.”
Republican Reps. Virginia Foxx and Tim Walberg both praised the Robb’s confirmation and the chance to roll back Griffin’s “partisan agenda.”
“After years of a partisan agenda advanced by his activist predecessor, we know Peter Robb has an important job ahead of him,” the lawmakers said in a statement. “We look forward to having a more objective NLRB General Counsel that puts the rights of workers and job creators before powerful special interests.”
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