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Practically from the day the U.S. Senate confirmed him as National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) general counsel after Obama appointee Richard Griffin’s term expired in November 2017, 10 months into the Trump Administration, Peter Robb infuriated forced dues-hungry union bosses.
Time and again, Mr. Robb angered Big Labor by doing something that is extremely uncommon for the top lawyer of the powerful NLRB, which calls the shots regarding employee-employer relations in more than 90% of American private-sector workplaces:
He insisted that union bosses and employers alike respect limited, but important, rights afforded to the individual employee who does not wish to join or bankroll a union under federal statutes and under the U.S. Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court.
Thanks to General Counsel Robb, in recent years, workers who credibly charged that union bosses had trampled their legal rights, but whose cases were rejected by Big Labor-“friendly” regional NLRB bureaucrats, often got a chance to have their appeals heard by Trump appointees on the NLRB.
Because they were able to get their cases heard in a more fair forum, such workers, many of them represented by National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys, were often also able ultimately to secure favorable settlements.
Top union bosses like Service Employees International Union (SEIU) President Mary Kay Henry were appalled.
Once Ms. Henry and other union bosses, who collectively poured an estimated $2 billion, much of it forced-dues money, into electioneering and lobbying during the 2020 presidential campaign cycle, helped make Joe Biden America’s 46th President last fall, she was determined to get rid of Mr. Robb.
Weeks before Mr. Biden was inaugurated, the SEIU brass and the hierarchy of the Communications Workers of America (CWA/AFL-CIO) union began publicly clamoring for him to make the unprecedented and legally questionable move of terminating a Senate-confirmed NLRB general counsel as soon as Mr. Biden took office.
In late December, SEIU spokespersons leaked to a Huffington Post reporter a copy of a memo union strategists had prepared to furnish the President-elect with rationalizations for departing from the norm, hitherto observed by Presidents of both parties, of allowing a general counsel to finish out his term.
And they made it plain they wanted it to happen no more than 24 hours into the Biden Administration.
On November 23, Bloomberg’s Josh Eidelson reported what CWA union President Chris Shelton had told him: “I’m hoping that he’ll fire Peter Robb the day he walks into the White House.”
The Biden Administration did exactly as Ms. Henry and Mr. Shelton had said.
At 12:23 PM on January 20, just minutes after President Biden had taken the oath of office and pledged in his inaugural address to show “tolerance and humility,” Mr. Robb received an email from White House official Cathy Russell, telling him to resign by 5 PM that afternoon.
If he didn’t, he would be fired, Ms. Russell added.
In a written response sent electronically that afternoon, Mr. Robb declined to resign, explaining that his resignation on threat of termination would make the prosecution of labor-law violations “subject to the political influence of the White House . . . .”
National Right to Work Committee President Mark Mix commented:
“This was the first time an NLRB general counsel was fired by a President in the more than 70 years since this position was established by Congress.
“And no misconduct whatsoever was cited by the President to justify his unprecedented action.
“This termination clearly happened for several reasons, all of them disturbing.”
Mr. Mix explained:
“First of all, Biden officials wanted to send a signal, right off the bat, that they are willing to do practically anything to pay back the union bosses who spent workers’ hard-earned money so freely to put Joe Biden in the White House.
“Second, union bosses couldn’t wait to get rid of General Counsel Robb because he time and again allowed cases brought by independent-minded workers to proceed when Big Labor wanted them quashed.
“Generally, these were cases through which workers were simply trying to exercise well-established rights, such as the right not to have fees they fork over as a job condition go toward political contributions, or the right to vote unions out of the workplace.
“Union bosses prefer such rights for workers exist in theory only, if at all.
“Finally, Big Labor was eager to clear the way for Joe Biden to install a zealous promoter of monopolistic unionism as NLRB general counsel.
“That’s why, once Mr. Robb was fired, they were unwilling to let former Deputy General Counsel Alice Stock stay on as acting general counsel.
“On January 21, her first day as acting general counsel, Ms. Stock was first instructed by the Biden White House to resign, then fired a few hours later after she, like Mr. Robb before her, refused to lend legitimacy to the Biden Administration’s strong-arm tactics.”
Of course, to complete the first of what observers of politics inside the D.C. Beltway expect will be many payoffs to Big Labor during his tenure in the Oval Office, President Biden needs to nominate a hardcore, activist proponent of forced unionism to fill the now-open NLRB general counsel slot.
And then he needs to get that nominee confirmed to a four-year term by the U.S. Senate.
Mr. Mix vowed that the National Right to Work Committee and its members would fight to prevent the installation of a union-label general counsel in the tradition of former President Barack Obama’s two appointees to that office, Lafe Solomon and Richard Griffin.
“Joe Biden,” Mr. Mix noted, “is apparently counting on recently-minted and pro-forced unionism Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer [D-N.Y.] to be able to secure the confirmation of whomever he nominates for NLRB general counsel at Big Labor’s behest, no matter how extreme the pick.
“But with just 50 out of 100 Senate seats currently held by members of Mr. Schumer’s Democrat Party, the confirmation as general counsel of a radical who is eager to rewrite federal law so as to intensify its pro-forced unionism bias is not assured.
“And the Committee is prepared to mobilize Right to Work supporters nationwide to hold every senator’s feet to the fire when the Biden nominee for NLRB general counsel comes up for a confirmation vote.”
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