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PATCO Strikebreaker is Trump's NLRB Pick

He broke the Air Traffic Controllers Union in the 80's which weakened an already fragile union movement

Brian Young's picture
Nov 09, 2017

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has a new general counsel after the Senate approved Peter Robb yesterday. The party line vote put the management side lawyer in charge of which cases the board will take up and tilted the partisan bend of the board in favor of the Republicans.

Robb is the third appointment that Trump has made to the board. Robb, a management-side lawyer from Vermont is a Director at Downs, Rachlin, Martin (DRM). In recent years, Robb has been a vocal critic of many of the NLRB's decisions.

This is not the first time that Robb has worked for the NLRB. In the 1980’s Robb served as chief counsel to NLRB member Robert Hunter. Hunter was instrumental in changing the direction of the board into a fundamentally anti-union entity during the Reagan years. In this role, Robb was the lead attorney for the government in the PATCO case. Robb argued for breaking the union to end the strike and his arguments resulted in thousands of striking workers losing their jobs.

“I think a management lawyer who is involved with landmark cases that have been used to promote the decline of unions is antithetical to what we would want,” said William Gould a former NLRB member. “After all the statute’s purpose is to promote freedom of association and collective bargaining, it seems that his record is at odds with that policy.”

Robb will now get to decide what cases the board takes up. In a presentation he made earlier in the year, he hinted at some of the cases he would take up including disputes over how a company’s classification of a worker as an independent contractor, rather than an employee, can limit certain rights. Needless to say, the days of a pro-worker NLRB are definitely over.

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