If even a day can make a significant difference, a month can make much more. On February 17, 2021, President Biden nominated Jennifer Abruzzo to serve as the next General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
The Biden Presidency has thus far brought unanticipated upheavals to the NLRB. As this blog previously discussed, President Biden, on his first day in office, fired the previous GC of the NLRB, Peter Robb (R), a Trump appointee, in an unprecedented move. This was followed by Robb’s replacement, AGC Peter Sung Ohr, walking back many Trump-era policies by issuing rescissions of ten of Robb’s memoranda, among other actions. If confirmed, Jennifer Abruzzo is expected to continue this pro-labor agenda.
Abruzzo is no stranger to the NLRB, having a 23-year tenure with the Board. She previously served as deputy GC under former GC Richard Griffin (D) and as acting GC before Trump appointee Robb was confirmed in 2017. Abruzzo most recently served as a special counsel to the Communications Workers of America.
Given the controversial nature of former GC Robb’s termination, some are expecting Abruzzo’s confirmation hearings to be contentious. Still, Democrats will have the votes to confirm her provided none break ranks. Her confirmation will likely do little to resolve the frustrations of employers who have raised legal challenges in NLRB cases by suggesting that President Biden lacked the legal authority to fire Robb in January 2021.
Abruzzo is expected to advance pro-labor and pro-union initiatives such as more aggressively prosecuting employers for alleged labor law violations. In a statement released the day of Abruzzo’s nomination, the White House said, “Abruzzo will be an important member in supporting the NLRB’s work to build a stronger, more resilient, and more inclusive economy that delivers every American a fair return for their work and an equal chance to get ahead.”
For the labor professional on the management side, the nomination is simply confirmation of our prior conclusion: do not expect much good news from the NLRB for some time to come.