Joe Biden Honors Unionbusters At NLRB By Terminating Their Employment
I regret to announce that President Joe Biden has Violated Norms and failed at doing Unity by firing noted unionbuster Peter Robb from the National Labor Relations Board. Or, as noted rightwing troll factory The Federalist put it in a headline: "Violating Norms On Day One, Biden Axes Respected Labor Attorney."
President Joe Biden caved to the demands of labor unions and fired the National Labor Relations Board's top prosecutor on Wednesday, a move that many have labeled as "unprecedented."
While members of the NLRB general counsel usually serve four-year terms, shortly after his inauguration, Biden pressured attorney Peter Robb to resign from his position before his tenure at the independent agency expired. Robb refused to resign, criticizing the decision in a letter to the Biden administration, saying the pressure seemed partisan coming from an executive branch that continues to peddle a message of unity.
As we all recall, because we have not yet memory-holed Donald Trump (as pleasant as that sounds), one of the hallmarks of the Trump administration was "firing everybody he wanted, 10 year-term be damned." It was even his catch phrase! He also loved doing things like putting Betsy DeVos, a charter school advocate who did not much care for public schooling, in charge of the Department of Education, putting a climate change denier in charge of the EPA, and changing the purpose of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to help financial institutions screw consumers by doing things like hounding them about debt they no longer owe.
Oh, and putting people who were famously anti-labor and pro-management on the National Labor Relations Board. People like now-former NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb. Robb was initially asked to resign by the Biden administration but refused, writing an angry letter accusing Joe Biden of being bad at doing unity.
It was my understanding that the incoming administration intended to foster civility and unity in this country and in the governing of this country, promising to adhere to the rule of law and enabling its chief law enforcement officers the independence, free from White House interference, to enforce the laws of the United States. A presidential removal of the NLRB's General Counsel prior to the expiration of his or her term violates these promises and principles. The prosecution of violations of the NLRA will now be subject to the political influence of the White House, in violation of Congressional action to improve the function of the NLRB to achieve the NLRA's mission to fairly resolve labor disputes in the United States.
He was then fired, 10 months before his four-year term was up. You would think that he would be fine with this, because you would think he probably loves at-will employment, but for some reason he was not.
Federalist writer Jordan Davidson was outraged about this both because of the violation of norms and because Robb was so very good at strike-breaking, union-busting, and fighting for the rights of large corporations to retaliate against employees for asking for fair wages. Apparently, no one told her what the National Labor Relations Board is for.
Despite Robb's concerns, Biden fired him following months of pressure from the large Service Employees International Union, which assisted the now-president on the campaign trail. In December, the union sent Biden a letter demanding Robb be removed, but not before coordinating with "allies in the labor movement" to persuade them to join the cause. According to reporting by the Huffington Post, the letter from the union claimed Robb is an "extreme, anti-union ideologue" and a "uniquely destructive figure" that damages the fight for labor relations.
Because of Robb's record in breaking up large strikes, settling with McDonald's after workers claimed the company and its franchises punished them for the "Fight for $15," and generally opposing neutrality agreements between unions and employers, Robb's firing comes as a big win for the SEIU and other progressive labor groups. It also opens the door for Biden to nominate a new prosecutor of his choosing for the labor agency.
The purpose of the National Labor Relations Board is, of course, to protect workers from unfair labor practices, not to encourage those practices, to protect their rights to unionization and collective bargaining, not to protect companies from unionization and collective bargaining and Scabby the Rat. As such, it does not really make a whole lot of sense for an anti-labor attorney to be the General Counsel there. The NLRB is going to go back to doing what the NLRB is supposed to do. That's not a violation of norms, it is a return to them. And a very, very good decision for workers everywhere because fuck Peter Robb.
That is not the only change that has been made to the NLRB. Alice Stock, who was the number two lawyer under Robb, was also fired. Republican John Ring was removed from his position as chairman and Lauren McFerran, the only Democrat on the board, has taken his place. Unfortunately, the Republicans will retain majority control of the board until August, as there is only one current vacancy. (General counsel and board member are two different things.)
Both Peter Robb and Alice Stock worked hard to keep workers from organizing — leaving them vulnerable to being fired without just cause. I cannot think of a better, more appropriate way to honor them.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse