Woman Who Doesn't Actually Hate Workers To Lead National Labor Relations Board
Today, Jennifer Abruzzo was sworn in as the general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
Yesterday, the Senate confirmed Abruzzo as the NLRB's top lawyer, 51-50, with Kamala casting the tie-breaking vote — so you know just from that that she must be good!
This one was a straight party-line vote, with the ever-milquetoast Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski toeing the Republican line. Richard Burr flipped out during Abruzzo's hearing in front of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee because Abruzzo is a decent human being who champions workers' rights.
Abruzzo is an NLRB veteran who has worked for the organization for more than two decades, as deputy assistant general counsel, deputy regional attorney in Miami, supervisory field attorney, field attorney, and acting general counsel. Before Biden appointed her to his transition team for labor agencies, she was working for the Communication Workers for America (CWA).
As an independent agency, NLRB general counsel appointments are different from ordinary executive branch appointments. The NLRB's general counsel 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 stay in his seat until November, but the Biden administration was not having it. Getting rid of Rob was apparently a top priority for Biden, who fired Robb on Inauguration Day.
For the last seven-plus months, NLRB career employee Peter Sung Ohr has been serving as the agency's acting general counsel. A bunch of
anti-worker asshats Republicans have filed various challenges to Ohr's authority, but Abruzzo's confirmation may nullify basically any remedy sought in those cases. Even if the acting general counsel didn't have authority to make agency decisions, now that Abruzzo has been confirmed, she certainly has that authority and, if she want, could ratify anything Ohr did while serving as acting gc.
Like a labor expert told Bloomberg Law,
"She clearly was approved through the proper measures," said Jeffrey Hirsch, a labor law professor at the University of North Carolina and a former NLRB attorney. Hirsch said the Senate's approval could make a court-ordered remedy—such as one nullifying Abruzzo's future actions as general counsel—more difficult for challengers to obtain.
The NLRB's general counsel has a lot of influence over federal labor policy and it's great to see someone who is actually on the side of labor in this role! In her position, Abruzzo will select which cases to investigate and prosecute, and supervises all of the NLRB field offices around the country.
Abruzzo will be working closely with Seema Nanda, an Indian-American woman who was confirmed earlier this month as the Department of Labor's Solicitor. Nanda has served as Acting Deputy Special Counsel in the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) in the DOJ's Civil Rights Division, the NLRB's Division of Advice, the Department of Labor under Obama, and CEO of the DNC. The general counsel and solicitor are separate from the five-member NLRB board, which adjudicates cases.
According to Richard Burr, Nanda also tweeted very mean things about Susan Collins, pointing out after Collins' vote to confirm Kegs Kavanaugh that she doesn't care about sexual assault survivors. The audacity! (But, wait a second, I thought the GOP was full of people who love freezepeach and just hate cancel culture?!)
We are very excited to see these ladies kicking ass and taking names in defense of workers' rights!
[ Bloomberg Law ]
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