U.S. labor leaders and advocates on Wednesday hailed President Joe Biden’s nomination of Communications Workers of America special counsel Jennifer Abruzzo for the top legal post at the National Labor Relations Board, with one Democratic congressman calling her “a far cry” from Peter Robb, who held the job during the Trump administration and was fired last month by the current president.
“We hope Jennifer’s confirmation process is speedy—working people need her at the helm of the NLRB now more than ever.”
—Chris Shelton, CWA president
In a statement announcing Abruzzo’s nomination for NLRB general counsel, the White House called her “a tested and experienced leader” who, if confirmed by the Senate, “will work to enforce U.S. labor laws that safeguard the rights of workers to join together to improve their wages and working conditions and protect against unfair labor practices.”
“Abruzzo will bring her more than two decades of experience and knowledge at the NLRB to help rebuild America’s middle class,” the statement continued, adding that she “will be an important member in supporting the NLRB’s work to build a stronger, more resilient, and more inclusive economy that delivers every American a fair return for their work and an equal chance to get ahead.”
The NLRB is an independent federal agency tasked with enforcing labor laws and fair labor practices.
Abruzzo’s nomination marks a stark departure from former President Donald Trump’s assault on labor rights. While Robb was blasted as an “extreme, anti-union ideologue” and a “uniquely destructive figure” by the Service Employees International Union, labor leaders greeted news of Abruzzo’s nomination with overwhelming approval.
“There is no one who has a more thorough grasp of the National Labor Relations Board and the purpose of the National Labor Relations Act than Jennifer Abruzzo,” CWA president Chris Shelton said in a statement. “She is a brilliant attorney who understands how the actions of the NLRB impact the daily lives of people at their workplaces.”
“President Biden’s selection of Jennifer as the NLRB general counsel shows that under his watch, issues affecting working people will be handled by people like Jennifer who have dedicated their lives to helping workers—and not union busters like we saw during the Trump administration,” Shelton added. “We hope Jennifer’s confirmation process is speedy—working people need her at the helm of the NLRB now more than ever.”
There is no one who has a more thorough grasp of the National Labor Relations Board and the purpose of the National Labor Relations Act than Jennifer Abruzzo. She is a brilliant attorney.https://t.co/OCOGriS4T7
— CWA (@CWAUnion) February 17, 2021
Some Democratic lawmakers also expressed their approval of Abruzzo.
An excellent pick and a far cry from Peter Robb. I have no doubt she will work to restore the vitality of the NLRB, treat agency employees with the respect they deserve and actually enforce the laws protecting workers’ rights instead of undermining them. https://t.co/KB5O0gJFMd
— Rep. Andy Levin (@RepAndyLevin) February 17, 2021
Biden—who campaigned promising to be the “most pro-union president ever”—has been praised by labor advocates for early moves including firing Robb and rescinding a series of Trump-era orders meant to weaken federal employee unions and eliminate civil service protections.
On Wednesday, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris hosted a group of labor leaders at the White House, where they discussed the American Rescue Plan—the administration’s $1.9 trillion economic stimulus and coronavirus pandemic recovery proposal—and improving the nation’s infrastructure.