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What the NLRB's New Anti-Union GC Means for Unions

By George Khoury, Esq. on November 10, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Not surprisingly, the Trump administration nominee for the position of General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board, Peter Robb, has recently been confirmed. Also not surprising, President Trump, who is heavily pro-business rather than pro-labor, nominated an attorney that is known to be anti-union, in addition to padding the board with conservative, pro-employer, board members.

For the first time in over a decade, Republicans have control of the NLRB, though the past decade has been mired by controversy held over from the Bush Administration. Although the NLRB was formed to help employees resolve disputes with their employers, the recent changes certainly shifts the focus from leveling the playing field for employees, to putting employers in a position of even greater power.

Yes, That Peter Robb

If the name sounds familiar to you, there's a good reason for that. Robb notably was the lead attorney on the case that helped bust the air traffic controllers union under Reagan in 1981. This is rather significant because this case is credited as the start of the decline of union power, both politically and socially. As such, it begs the question of whether Robb will be impartial, or pro-employer (though, as noted, the NLRB was formed to help level the playing field for employees).

Joint Employer Rule on the Run

One of the biggest issues that Robb is expected to tackle is the joint employer rule. The rule basically states that a company need only have indirect control over an employee to be considered a joint employer. In practice, this meant that a franchisor, or corporate partner, could potentially be held liable for their indirect control of a franchisee's, or corporate partner's, employees. But, Robb isn't actually the largest potential threat the joint employer rule as a recent bill just passed the House that would kill the rule before Robb even has a chance.

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