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Changes at the NLRB: General Counsel out, interim appointed

November 06, 2017

past and future gearsOn Nov. 1, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced that Jennifer Abruzzo will serve as Acting General Counsel for the government’s labor law enforcement agency, replacing the controversial Richard Griffin, who was appointed to the position by former President Barack Obama.

Griffin’s four-year term ended on Oct. 31. Griffin, a former lawyer for the International Union of Operating Engineers, led the NLRB in an aggressive effort to “modernize” old rules to benefit labor organizing. Griffin also oversaw an aggressive enforcement strategy that redefined acceptable employment policies in employee handbooks.

The NLRB General Counsel works independent from the Board and handles the investigation and prosecution of unfair labor practice cases, in addition to the general supervision of the NLRB field offices in the processing of cases. The NLRB has nearly 1,600 employees, the vast majority of whom report directly to the General Counsel.

Abruzzo has spent 23 years working for the NLRB in various capacities, including as Field Attorney, Supervisory Field Attorney and Deputy Regional Attorney in the Miami, Florida office. Abruzzo has also served as Deputy Assistant General Counsel in the Division of Operations-Management in Washington, DC, where she oversaw the NLRB’s Regional operations in the Northeast and Midwest. Abruzzo will serve as Acting General Counsel until President Donald Trump appoints, and the Senate approves, the new General Counsel.

President Trump has nominated Attorney Peter B. Robb to replace Griffin. Robb currently works as a management-side labor and employment attorney at Downs Rachlin Martin PLLC, based in Vermont. Robb’s legal career has spanned all aspects of labor and employment law – from chief counsel to a member of the NLRB to serving as a legal advisor to major corporations.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee approved Robb’s nomination in mid-October. The full Senate must now approve of Robb’s nomination. Stay tuned for additional developments.

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