Under the Trump administration, the National Labor Relations Board consistently favored management arguments whenever worker-related disputes arose. Like so many other things in Washington, that, too, is about to change.
Wednesday, President Biden announced that Jennifer Abruzzo will be his choice to serve as the board’s general counsel.
She’s not exactly a stranger to the role, having earlier served as its deputy general counsel and acting general counsel. Abruzzo also previously worked for the Service Employees International Union, the largest labor organization in senior living and care. Currently, she is the special counsel to the Communication Workers of America, the country’s largest communications and media labor union.
The stakes here hardly are inconsequential. After all, the NLRB’s primary duties are to enforce labor laws, protect employees’ rights to organize and prevent unfair labor practices. But the way it chooses to pursue that mission often comes down to predilections of those in charge.
If you are concerned Abruzzo may bring a pro-labor bias to the role, trust your gut. That is not a knock against her, per se. But operators should have a pretty good idea of which way she is likely to lean during future labor disputes, of which there are certain to be many.
The proverbial changing of the guard is especially severe here. Abruzzo will be replacing Trump loyalist Peter Robb, who was forced out earlier this month after refusing to step down.
Abruzzo can expect a bruising Senate confirmation hearing. Many Republicans still are sore over the way Robb was shown the door. You can be sure they will be loaded for bear.
Not that it really matters. Confirmations boil down to having the votes. All the rest is all the rest. Currently, Democrats have the numbers to push her nomination through committee and the full Senate.
So operators had best prepare for a new reality at the NLRB. Barring an unforeseen development, there’s going to be a yet another new sheriff in town.