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President Joe Biden fired the National Labor Relations Board’s Republican general counsel, Peter Robb, on Wednesday after he refused to resign.
Separately, President Biden named NLRB board member Democrat Lauren McFerran as chairman.
Mr. Robb’s four-year term was set to expire in November 2021. The general counsel post plays a central role in the policies the agency pursues.
In a letter addressed to Cathy Russell, director of the Office of Presidential Personnel on Wednesday before his firing, Mr. Robb said his termination would be “unprecedented” and “set an unfortunate precedent for the labor realities of this country that will permanently undermine the structure and thus the proper function” of the NLRB and the National Labor Relations Act.
“In particular, such action undermines Congress’s intent that the office of the General Counsel be independent of the Board and the Executive Branch so that the General Counsel, as chief prosecutor of the NLRA, can prosecute potential violations of the NLRA free from political influenced pressure,” the letter said.
The NLRB said in a statement after Mr. Robb’s termination that Deputy General Counsel Alice B. Stock had become Acting General Counsel. However, on Friday, the agency’s website listed Ms. Stock’s tenure as lasting from just Wednesday to Thursday. According to news reports, Ms. Stock also was terminated after refusing to resign. An NLRB spokesman had no comment.
Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., Republican leader of the Education and Labor Committee, said in a statement, “President Biden’s continuous calls for unity and civil discourse upon taking his oath of office are already proving to be empty aspirations.
“The Biden administration appears to be rewarding their friends in Big Labor on day one through this inappropriate demand that NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb resign immediately or be forcibly removed.”
However, Chris Shelton, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Communications Workers of America, said in a statement that by firing Mr. Robb, President Biden “clearly demonstrated his commitment to ensuring that workers are free to build power and exercise their rights under the National Labor Relations Act.
“Robb is a professional union buster who spent his term at the NLRB pushing his extreme anti-worker agenda instead of fulfilling the purpose of the National Labor Relations Act.
The NLRB now has three Republican members, with Ms. McFerran the sole Democrat and a fifth spot open. Ms. McFerran’s term expires December 2024.
Experts have said it may be a while before President Biden can fully embark on any plans related to employment law, given that the structure of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as well as the NLRB have a majority of Republican members for now.
(Reuters) — A U.S. labor board on Tuesday finalized a rule that will make it more difficult to hold companies liable for unlawful labor practices by franchisees and contractors, reversing a more worker-friendly Obama-era standard criticized by business groups.