NLRB’s New General Counsel Is Narrowly Confirmed
July 28, 2021
You may remember that President Biden fired the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB or Board) on Inauguration Day. Last week, his pick to take over the position, Jennifer Abruzzo, was confirmed by the Senate in a 51-50 vote, with Vice President Harris needed to break the tie.
Abruzzo most recently served as Special Counsel for Strategic Initiatives for the Communications Workers of America (CWA). She has worked as an attorney at the NLRB in a variety of capacities, including Field Attorney, Deputy Regional Attorney, Deputy Assistant General Counsel, Deputy General Counsel, and Acting General Counsel. She promises “vigorous enforcement” of the National Labor Relations Act to “help level the playing field for workers and their freely chosen representatives.”
Employers can certainly expect a labor-friendly approach from Abruzzo who will likely continue to roll back the work of former President Trump’s nominee, Peter Robb. She has already determined that Peter Sung Ohr, who served as Acting General Counsel after Robb’s departure, will serve as her Deputy General Counsel.
While the General Counsel is independent from the Board and cannot change Board law, he/she has a great deal of influence on which cases are investigated and prosecuted by the NLRB Field Offices and which cases, therefore, end up before the Board. The Board currently holds three Republican members, but that will soon change. President Biden is already in the process of filling one open seat on the Board, and Board Member William J. Emanual’s term expires on August 27, 2021.
Employers should be prepared for a return to the types of Board policies, procedures, and decisions we saw under former President Obama’s tenure.
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