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Lansing Labor News
Established 1945
August 20, 2018
Recording Secretary Scott Lounds
Updated On: Jun 27, 2018

May 2018

Coming into the mid-term elections the importance of who is elected couldn’t be clearer.  As we saw at the State level, when anti-worker candidates are elected our rights as employees and as Unionists suffer. While the Right-to-Work law passed here in Michigan is the clearest evidence of this, there are many things happening at the Federal level that will also be damaging. The right of the administration to appoint the heads of agencies like the NLRB and cabinet posts such as the Department of Labor is crucial and over time causes great damage to the Labor movement.
With the office of president comes the power to appoint many, many, officials whose actions effect our lives. These political appointees often have tremendous power to change the direction of labor law and its enforcement. As an example, the current administration’s efforts to reverse the direction of federal labor policy continue to accelerate in an alarming fashion.  Labor rights advocates are particularly alarmed by the direction NLBR General Counsel, and Trump appointee, Peter Robb has taken regarding the agency.  Former NLRB Chair, and Stanford University Law Professor William Gould has called Robb “a man in a big hurry” to seize control of the complaint process at the regional level which is the strength of the NLRB.
The regional directors and their staffs typically resolve more than 85 percent of the roughly 20,000 cases filed with the agency each year over disputed labor practices without involving the general counsel, the top enforcement official. The NLRB Regional offices are where Union officials or lawyers can go to have complaints handled in a professional manner. But, Republicans believe that the civil servants who man these offices are biased toward Labor. Under the proposal by Robb the NLRB regional staff would answer to a small group of politically appointed officials higher up in the boards hierarchy that would surely reflect Robb’s personal agenda.  Affectively demoting longtime public servants in favor of political hacks.
Keep in mind that Robb came to his position after a legal career spent representing management, including being a key part of the staff that brought the Reagan administration’s litigation against the air traffic controllers’ union when they struck in 1981. Most labor historians say the government’s hard line in firing the controllers contributed to organized Labor’s struggles in the following decades. The example of the NLRB and Peter Robb serves to illustrate the reasons that we need to work diligently to elect pro-worker and pro-labor candidates this election season.  The people who hold office at both the state and federal levels can change our lives for better or worse and with the Governor’s race and other important elections only months away it is time to energize and mobilize to protect our rights and the rights of those who will follow.

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