Changes at the NLRB: New General Counsel Confirmed and New Chairperson Expected

Last week, the U.S. Senate confirmed Peter Robb as General Counsel for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Robb previously represented employers in labor law matters. As General Counsel, Robb will oversee the NLRB in its headquarters in Washington, DC and in its field offices throughout the country. The NLRB’s former General Counsel, Obama-appointee Richard Griffin, had previously served as legal counsel to a large union. Griffin’s term expired last month. As the new General Counsel, Robb should influence how local NLRB offices investigate and prosecute unfair labor practice cases and handle workplace election matters.

We expect to report more NLRB news in the next few months. Current NLRB Chairman Philip Miscimarra, a Republican, has announced he will leave when his first term expires on December 16th. President Trump is expected to appoint another Republican to take Miscimarra’s place.

The five-member Board has been comprised of a majority of Republicans since September, when Trump-appointee William Emanuel joined the Board. The NLRB had been majority-Democrat for the past decade. Given that the NLRB decides cases and enacts regulations and that its General Counsel determines which cases to prosecute, the Board likely will revisit issues decided by the Obama-era NLRB.  We expect rule changes on matters involving employee email, the scope of protected employee speech, and elections to determine whether employees have union representation. The Board also may overturn some Obama-era decisions employers have found troubling, such as the expanded standard for joint employers and prohibition of class action waivers in employment agreements. The wheels of justice move slowly, so these changes may not go into effect for years.

On November 28th, Thomas Lenz will talk about the NLRB in more depth at a one-hour webinar, Update on National Labor Relations Board Practice, for the State Bar of California’s Labor and Employment Section.

We will discuss the NLRB and many other issues at AALRR’s Labor Relations Law Conference on May 18, 2018.


Categories: Labor Relations, NLRB

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