By Sahid Fawaz
President Donald Trump's pick for the general counsel position at the National Labor Relations Board is a clear signal that he has nothing but disdain for the labor movement.
"President Donald Trump’s nominee for the top attorney job at the NLRB argued against a now-defunct air traffic controllers union in a case that critics consider a key event contributing to decades of decline in union membership and wage stagnation.
Peter Robb was nominated Sept. 15 by the White House to serve as general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board. Robb was the lead attorney in a controversial case that resulted in the firing of thousands of striking workers and the decertification of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization. That experience could raise a red flag for unions and Democrats already concerned about what the labor board will do when it eventually gets a Republican majority and a GOP lawyer in the general counsel position.
'The PATCO case was probably the most important labor conflict of the last part of the 20th century,' Joseph McCartin, a labor historian and professor at Georgetown University’s Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor, told Bloomberg BNA.
Robb, a management-side employment lawyer at Downs Rachlin Martin in Vermont, would fill a general counsel role that comes with independent authority to initiate enforcement against employers or unions and to select which complaints the board will adjudicate. He is set to replace outgoing general counsel Richard Griffin (D). Critics in the business community view Griffin as having used arguably the most powerful position at the NLRB to shift labor policy to favor unions.
'Mr. Robb brings 40 years of experience practicing the National Labor Relations Act in both government and in private practice, making him eminently qualified to serve as General Counsel of the NLRB,' a White House spokesman told Bloomberg BNA. 'His previous service at the FLRA over 30 years ago has little to do with the National Labor Relations Act or with the mission of the NLRB, which focuses on private sector employment matters. The FLRA’s mission is entirely confined to Federal Government employment and public sector unions.'
The PATCO dispute over pay and working conditions started well before the government and the Federal Labor Relations Authority filed unfair labor practice charges against the union in 1981. President Ronald Reagan’s administration eventually broke what a court said was an unlawful strike by the the air traffic controllers. Reagan held a press conference in the White House Rose Garden where he announced the firing of more than 11,000 striking workers.
The subsequent FLRA case Robb spearheaded resulted in PATCO’s decertification, and most of the striking workers were banned from the federal service for life by the Reagan administration."
For the full story, check out the piece in its entirety at BNA.com.