Biden Continues to Blaze a Pro-Union Path Forward for the NLRB

On July 22, 2021, Jennifer Abruzzo was sworn in as General Counsel to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for a four-year term. Ms. Abruzzo was nominated by President Biden on February 17, 2021.

The General Counsel shapes the legal strategy and case management of unfair labor practice and union representation cases at the NLRB. The General Counsel provides direction to the field offices on how to manage cases before them, choose which charges are prosecuted, and has the power to push cases forward to the Board in hopes of seeking reversal of existing precedent.

Jennifer Abruzzo most recently worked as Special Counsel for Strategic Initiatives for the Communications Workers of America union. She previously worked for the NLRB for over twenty years, in various positions including Field Attorney, Supervisory Field Attorney, Deputy Regional Attorney, and Acting General Counsel before Peter Robb (General Counsel during the Trump administration) was confirmed by the Senate.

Peter Sung Ohr, who has been Acting General Counsel since Peter Robb’s termination, has been named Deputy General Counsel, and Jessica Rutter will be Associate General Counsel. Peter Sung Ohr has been a career employee of the NLRB, and Ms. Rutter was an attorney for the American Federation of Teachers.

After her swearing-in, Ms. Abruzzo made the following statement:

“I am thrilled to rejoin the Agency and once again work with its talented board agents, who are committed to fully protecting the rights of workers to freely associate and act collectively to improve their wages and working conditions. I am looking forward to partnering with them, as well as colleagues at other agencies to engage with and educate the public and to promote better enforcement of labor and employment laws,” said General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo. “I believe that vigorous enforcement of the Act will help level the playing field for workers and their freely chosen representatives, bring much needed equity to the historically underserved members of our communities, engender safe and productive workplaces, which is particularly critical right now as we fight a pandemic, and build a better economy for workers, families, and communities in this country.” 

Ms. Abruzzo’s opening comments and her naming of Peter Sung Ohr and Jessica Rutter as Deputy General Counsel and Associate General Counsel signal a more union-friendly era on the horizon. This is coupled with the fact that President Biden nominated two well-known union attorneys, Gwynne Wilcox and David Prouty, to fill seats on the NLRB. Mr. Prouty was President Biden’s pick to replace Republication NLRB member William Emanuel when Mr. Emanuel’s term expired in August. Ms. Wilcox would fill a seat that has been vacant since 2018. On Wednesday, July 28, 2021, the Senate confirmed the pair. As Mr. Emanuel’s term ended in August, the Democrats have the majority, and therefore control the Board. We expect to see more union-friendly decisions at the NLRB level, including reversing a number of pro-employer decisions from the last four years. Employers Council can help. Contact our Labor Relations group at LR@employerscouncil.org with questions.