Minutes into his presidency, Biden ousts union-buster Peter Robb

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January 25, 2021 1:11 PM

Just 23 minutes after being inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States, President Biden asked Peter Robb to resign from his position as General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”). When Robb refused, Biden fired him. Robb, a high-profile union buster, was considered by many to be the most dangerous General Counsel to oversee the NLRB in decades. Removing him was a critical first step toward leveling the playing field for America’s workers.

In 2017, President Trump appointed Peter Robb to oversee the National Labor Relations Board: the federal agency responsible for protecting the rights of workers to unionize, negotiate, and strike. Just as Trump shamelessly appointed Betsy DeVos – who spent millions trying to privatize and defund our public education system – to run the U.S. Department of Education and Andrew Wheeler – a coal-industry lobbyist intent on repealing regulations that prevent toxins from being released into the air and poisons from entering our drinking water – to run the Environmental Protection Agency, Trump appointed Robb to run a federal agency that he was hell-bent on destroying.

In the early 1980s, Peter Robb gained notoriety as a ruthless union-buster when he counseled President Reagan on how to fire nearly 12,000 air traffic controllers and end their strike. Robb spent the next 35 years coaching employers around the country how to crush attempts by their workers to organize. His tactics often relied on exploiting loopholes in the very laws he would be tasked with enforcing at the NLRB.

To no surprise, during his three years as General Counsel at the NLRB, Robb did untold damage. He declared key parts of card check neutrality agreements illegal, which made it much harder for workers to meet with union organizers and vote to form a union even when their employers were not resisting unionization. Under his direction, the NLRB restored the ability of employers to unfairly delay union elections, permitted workers to be fired for raising health and safety concerns during COVID-19, drastically limited the free speech of workers, and consistently sided with employers trying to prevent their workers from unionizing.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that if Peter Robb had been permitted to serve his full term, he would have spent his final 10 months in office denying countless workers the right to organize and gutting the few remaining protections left under the law” remarked HTC President Rich Maroko. “I am relieved that President Biden recognized the urgency of the situation.”

On the campaign trail, Biden promised to be the most pro-union president we’ve ever seen. By firing Robb, he is off to a strong start. President Biden is now free to nominate new leadership to the National Labor Relations Board who can begin to repair the damage done during the Trump presidency.