The labor board’s new top prosecutor will be met by agency workers protesting some of his recent moves when he arrives at an event in New York Feb. 6.
Members of the local unions representing labor board employees in Brooklyn, Manhattan and at agency headquarters in Washington D.C. are planning to distribute leaflets and voice opposition to some of General Counsel Peter Robb’s (R) proposals, two union officers told Bloomberg Law Feb. 6. The protesters say proposals to overhaul the board’s regional office system and revise case processing standards would diminish the agency’s central mission of protecting workers’ rights.
The protest is the latest sign that rank-and-file National Labor Relations Board employees may not be on board with Robb’s vision for the agency. It comes after NLRB regional directors wrote to Robb expressing concern about his plans for the field office system.
One of the flyers prepared by the unions references Bloomberg Law reports on Robb’s suggestion that a major restructuring of the NLRB’s regional offices could be in the works and on a previously undisclosed memorandum floating possible changes in how the agency processes workplace complaints.
Robb’s proposals could result in the elimination of a number of regional offices. The moves could also make it easier for the agency to dismiss or withdraw employment complaints and emphasize the settlement of claims, as opposed to pursuing remedies through litigation.
“The initial reaction was one of outrage,” Mike Bilik, president of the local union representing NLRB workers in Manhattan, told Bloomberg Law of union members’ response to the proposals. Members are concerned that the changes “could very quickly result in a reduction of field operations, potentially redefine our roles and make it harder to perform our essential functions,” Bilik said.
Robb was appointed by President Donald Trump and confirmed by the Senate in late 2017. Agency spokespeople have defended against the union’s concerns—which have also been expressed by workers’ rights advocates generally—by explaining that Robb is simply considering possible responses to expected budget cuts and hasn’t made any concrete decisions.
“Insofar as he’s trying to pick and choose the feedback that works for him, we want to give him the message loud, clear, and united, that we won’t tolerate this kind of undermining of the agency’s work,” Noor Alam, president of Local 29, told Bloomberg News.