Hold On! — Democratic Senators Challenge New Labor Board GC’s Plans
Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Ranking Member, Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have written to new NLRB General Counsel Peter B. Robb “to express serious concerns regarding Memorandum 18-02, which [Robb] issued to National Labor Relations Board  Regional Directors on December 1, 2017.” For more on NLRB General Counsel Memo 18-02, see our article, New Labor Board General Counsel Issues Plans for Reversing Course. The Senators made a number of detailed requests for information and documents regarding Robb’s decision making and thought process and requested that he provide a response by December 22.
The GC Memo instructed Regional Directors to submit to Robb’s Division of Advice cases that relate to numerous “significant” categories. Many of those cases involved precedent overruled by the Obama NLRB. The Memo also rescinded seven Memoranda and three initiatives of the previous General Counsel, Richard Griffin, who was appointed by President Barack Obama.
The Senators said the Memo would interfere with the NLRB’s role, which, in their view, is to help workers “hold companies accountable in court for violations of the National Labor Relations Act” and “to adapt the statute to ever-changing economic conditions.” The Senators stated, “[W]e are deeply concerned that your policy changes will ultimately enable bad actors to violate workers’ fundamental labor rights with impunity.” They also said that the Memo “suggests that your office will scale back its efforts to discharge [what the Senators believe is the NLRB’s] responsibility” to protect employees.
The Senators also said the timing of the Memo needs to be explained. They noted that Robb expressed a lack of a pre-determined agenda during his confirmation hearings, yet issued this guidance “in a mere nine workdays.”
It is unclear what, if any, effect the Senators’ inquiry will have on the General Counsel’s plans laid out in the Memo.