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Biden Selects CWA Lawyer for NLRB General Counsel

Jennifer Abruzzo will replace Trump's anti-union pick Peter Robb

Brian Young's picture
Feb 17, 2021

On Day One in office, President Joe Biden fired NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb, a move that was widely applauded by unions and working people. Robb had completely changed the position from one that defends workers’ rights to a prosecutor that went after unions. Nearly one month later, Biden has now picked a new General Counsel, Jennifer Abruzzo.

Abruzzo has a long history of working for the NLRB and for unions. She currently works as Special Counsel for Strategic Initiatives for the Communications Workers of America (CWA) where she was the union’s point person on dealing with issues that come before the NLRB.

“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,” said CWA President Chris Shelton. “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. We hope Jennifer’s confirmation process is speedy -- working people need her at the helm of the NLRB now more than ever.”

Before joining the CWA, she served as Acting General Counsel for the NLRB and spent almost twenty-three years working for the board. Her positions included working as a Field Attorney, Supervisory Field Attorney and Deputy Regional Attorney in the Miami, Florida office, as well as Deputy Assistant General Counsel in the Division of Operations-Management in Washington, DC, where she oversaw Regional operations in the Northeast and Midwest.

“Abruzzo will bring her more than two decades of experience and knowledge at the NLRB to help rebuild America's middle class,” the White House said in a statement. “Abruzzo 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.”

During the 2020 transition, Abruzzo served as a labor policy advisor to Biden. She has also been consistently mentioned as a possible nominee for a seat on the NLRB.

“A tested and experienced leader, Abruzzo will work to enforce U.S. labor laws that safeguards the rights of workers to join together to improve their wages and working conditions and protect against unfair labor practices,” Biden said in a statement.

The AFL-CIO also released a statement supporting Abruzzo’s appointment.

“There is no better person than Jennifer Abruzzo to help return the NLRB to its core mission of upholding and protecting workers’ rights to form unions and bargain collectively. Jennifer has tirelessly fought for working people her entire career, most recently as CWA’s special counsel, where she provided sound legal counsel concerning innovative initiatives advancing worker power. She previously served as deputy general counsel and acting general counsel at the NLRB, and in her nearly 23 years with the agency, she helped to protect workers’ rights from numerous corporate attacks. Even as workers have stepped up to the plate throughout this pandemic, we’ve been denied basic federal protections time and again. Today is another step toward righting the wrongs of the past four years. The days of the NLRB actively blocking workers from organizing a union are over. We look forward to working people finally getting the fair treatment we deserve.”

Abruzzo will now need to be confirmed by the Senate, where her confirmation is likely to pass with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie since the Senate is split 50-50. Biden has also made another change at the NLRB, making Lauren McFerran the chair of the board. McFerran has served on the board since 2014 and was reconfirmed for another four-year term last year, meaning she will serve on the NLRB until the end of 2024.

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