The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, November 24, 2017

News Briefs

By The Building Tradesman

Union buster is NLRB's top cop

WASHINGTON (PAI)—The guy who drew up the legal memo showing President Reagan how to fire the striking air traffic controllers in 1981 is the same guy President Trump picked as the general counsel for the National Labor Relations Board.

And by a 49-46 party-line vote – all of the ruling Republicans for and all the Democrats against – the U.S. Senate decided on Nov. 8 to confirm Peter Robb as the National Labor Relations Board’s general counsel, its top enforcement job. 

Robb, now a management-side labor law attorney in Vermont, drew Democratic opposition due to his opposition to workers’ rights, dating all the way back to 1981, when the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Union struck over safety issues - and were fired wholesale by Reagan.

That, and Robb’s subsequent anti-worker service, drew protests from Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. 

“Perhaps no person at the NLRB is more critical to protecting rights than the general counsel,” Stabenow said. “When a worker believes the law has been violated and brings their concern to the board, it is the general counsel who investigates. If the employee is found to have violated the law or the freedoms and rights of working men and women, it is the General Counsel who takes action to make things right.

“Unfortunately, while President Trump talks a lot about having workers' backs…his actions speak much louder than his words. That is certainly true in the case of” Robb. 

“Robb also was lead counsel on the case that led to 11,000 air traffic controllers being fired -- people, again, who were part of a  union and could collectively bargain for safe conditions and good pay and pensions. They were fired and barred from federal service. It was a watershed case in the history of union suppression, in taking away people's freedoms.”

“With stagnant wages and rising healthcare costs and worries about pension cuts and workplace discrimination, frankly, I know working men and women...have enough to worry about. They shouldn't have to worry that the person who is supposed to have their back is, instead, looking for ways to strip away their freedom to organize on the job,” she concluded.