The last piece fell into place for turning around the National Labor Relation Board’s pro-union tilt over the last eight years when the Senate confirmed President Trump’s nominee Peter B. Robb to serve as the board’s general counsel.
Robb, formerly a management-side labor and employment attorney with the Vermont-based law firm of Downs Rachlin Martin for 22 years, will serve a four-year term.
Robb received his undergraduate degree from Georgetown University in 1970 and was awarded his law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law in 1976.
Robb’s ascension to the post of NLRB general counsel is as important as the recent seating of two new board members that finally created a Republican majority (AA, 10-15-17, P. 5).
The board’s general counsel posseses greater power than a typical general counsel at any other federal agency. At the NLRB, this person determines which unfair labor practice charges will become formal complaints, and also sets the enforcement agenda for the NLRB’s 26 regional directors.
In this role, it is the general counsel who selects which cases which will be passed up for consideration by the board, allowing board members to create new precedents. It is this gatekeeper function for cases where the NLRB makes policy, that makes the position so important.
Under Robb’s guidance, expect to see cases come before the board which will allow the Republican majority to undo some to the most radical policy changes made by the Obama-era NLRB.
These are expected to include “quickie” elections, micro unit organizing, joint employer of staffing firms and their company clients, and a series of decisions that extended the board’s reach into non-union employers’ workplaces.