Robb issued memo to regional Board offices proposing sweeping review a mere nine workdays after Robb began as NLRB General Counsel
Memo would end efforts to protect workers’ rights beginning under the Obama administration, undermine protections for workers as the economy changes
Murray and Warren: “The abrupt issuance of [the memo] and the efforts it chooses to target raise serious and troubling questions.”
(Washington, D.C.) –Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), sent a letter to National Labor Relations Board General Counsel Peter Robb expressing concerns with a sweeping memo Robb issued to NLRB Regional Directors earlier this month. Murray and Warren cited concerns with the memo’s termination of a number of policies designed to safeguard workers’ right to speak up and act together. Murray and Warren also questioned Robb’s abrupt decisions regarding twelve complex legal issues a mere nine workdays into his tenure.
“[O]ne of your responsibilities as the sole enforcer of the NLRA is to adapt the statute to ever-changing economic conditions. However, your memo, striking in its breadth, suggests that your office will scale back its efforts to discharge that responsibility,” wrote the senators. “The Trump Administration has a troubling track record of undermining worker protections, and we are deeply concerned that your policy changes will ultimately enable bad actors to violate workers’ fundamental labor rights with impunity.”
Full letter below and a PDF can be found HERE.
December 12, 2017
Hon. Peter B. Robb
National Labor Relations Board
1015 Half Street SE
Washington, D.C. 20570-0001
Dear Mr. Robb:
We write to express serious concerns regarding Memorandum 18-02, which you issued to National Labor Relations Board (“Board”) Regional Directors on December 1, 2017. Because workers cannot independently hold companies accountable in court for violations of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), your office is the only place they can turn. As you know, one of your responsibilities as the sole enforcer of the NLRA is to adapt the statute to ever-changing economic conditions. However, your memo, striking in its breadth, suggests that your office will scale back its efforts to discharge that responsibility. The Trump Administration has a troubling track record of undermining worker protections, and we are deeply concerned that your policy changes will ultimately enable bad actors to violate workers’ fundamental labor rights with impunity.
Memorandum 18-02 requires regional offices to submit to your office for review “significant legal issues,” specifically targeting doctrines developed “over the last eight years” for potential “alternative analysis.” It also terminates a number of policies which sought to ensure that the NLRA’s protections would continue in force as the economy changes. These changes signal a significant shift in the Board’s efforts to protect workers’ rights.
Additionally, in an interview with our staff before your confirmation, you stated that you had not developed any opinion regarding recent Board decisions and that you would not be entering your position with any particular legal or ideological agenda. Further, in response to questions for the record, you stated, “I have not prejudged any application of Board precedent,” and “I have not developed a list of priority issues or criteria for determining [mandatory submissions to Advice]”. However, it appears that in a mere nine workdays, you developed opinions on a dozen complex legal questions leading you to revoke seven General Counsel memos and terminate five initiatives. In Memorandum 18-02, you offer no rationale for doing so. Each of these revoked memos and terminated initiatives sought to expand – not limit – protections and remedies for statutory employees.
The abrupt issuance of Memorandum 18-02 and the efforts it chooses to target raise serious and troubling questions.
Accordingly, we request that you provide us the following information by December 22, 2017. Please refer to the attached Instructions and Definitions in construing this request.