• July 23, 2021

Woman Who Doesn’t Really Hate Workers Will Head National Labor Relations Board

Today, Jennifer Abruzzo was sworn in as general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

Yesterday, the Senate confirmed Abruzzo as the NLRB’s top attorney, 51-50, with Kamala casting the tie-breaking vote, so you know why she must be good!

This was a straight-line vote, with the ever-milquetoast Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski following the Republican line. Richard Burr flip out during the Abruzzo hearing before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions because Abruzzo is a decent human being who defends the rights of workers.

Abruzzo is an NLRB veteran who has i worked for the organization for more than two decades, as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Deputy Regional Attorney in Miami, Supervising Field Attorney, Field Attorney and Acting Attorney General. Before Biden appointed her to his labor agency transition team, she worked for the Communication Workers for America (CWA).

As an independent agency, the NLRB General Counsel team they are different from the ordinary appointments of the Executive Power. The NLRB’s attorney general is appointed for a four-year term that does not necessarily align with presidential election years. Trump-appointed NLRB chief Peter Robb was supposed to remain in his seat until November, but the Biden administration was not allowing it. Getting rid of Rob was apparently a top priority for Biden, who fired Robb on opening day.

For the past seven months, NLRB career employee Peter Sung Ohr has served as the agency’s acting attorney general. A bunch of anti-worker asshats Republicans have presented various challenges to Ohr’s authority, but the Abruzzo confirmation can essentially nullify any remedy sought in those cases. Even if the acting attorney general did not have agency decision-making authority, now that Abruzzo has been confirmed, he certainly does have that authority and, if he wants, could ratify anything Ohr did while serving as acting CEO.

As a labor expert said Bloomberg Act,

“It was clearly passed through the proper measures,” said Jeffrey Hirsch, a professor of employment law at the University of North Carolina and a former attorney for the NLRB. Hirsch said Senate approval could make a court-ordered remedy, such as one that nullifies Abruzzo’s future actions as counsel general, more difficult for challengers to obtain.

The NLRB Advocate General has a lot of influence over federal employment policy and it’s great to see someone who really is on the workers’ side in this role. In his role, Abruzzo will select which cases to investigate and prosecute, and will oversee all NLRB field offices across the country.

Abruzzo will work closely with Seema Nanda, an Indian-American woman who was confirmed earlier this month as Attorney General for the Department of Labor. Nanda has served as Acting Deputy Special Counsel in the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) in the DOJ Civil Rights Division, NLRB Counseling Division, Department of Labor under Obama and the Executive Director of the DNC. The attorney general and the attorney are separated from the five-member board of the NLRB, which adjudicates the cases.

According to Richard Burr, Nanda also tweeted very bad things about Susan Collins, pointing out after Collins’ vote to confirm to Kegs Kavanaugh that she doesn’t care about survivors of sexual assault. The audacity! (But wait a sec, I thought the Republican Party was full of people who love freezepeach and just hate to cancel culture.)

We are so excited to see these women kicking butt and taking names in defense of workers’ rights!

[ Bloomberg Law ]

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