President Donald Trump selected a management-side labor lawyer to serve as the top enforcement officer at the National Labor Relations Board, earning praise from industry groups and labor watchdogs.
Trump nominated labor attorney Peter Robb to succeed controversial NLRB General Counsel Richard Griffin, a former union attorney. Supporters see Robb, a management-side labor lawyer at Dows Rachlin and Marin and former NLRB regional attorney, as a balancing force who will tilt the scales of the agency away from organized labor.
"As General Counsel to the NLRB, Mr. Robb will have the important job of helping workers who feel their right to organize collectively has been violated or assisting employers when some of their employees want to form a union," Sen. Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions, said in a statement. "He also has an opportunity to help restore the Board to the role of a neutral umpire after years of partisanship have created confusion for employers, employees, and unions."
Griffin previously served as an NLRB board member, the top federal labor arbiter, before the Supreme Court declared his appointment unconstitutional in 2013. He was appointed to serve as general counsel, which oversees workplace disputes and prosecutes labor violations, shortly after the Court scolded the Obama administration for abusing its recess appointment powers.
Griffin has been the leading force behind several major agency initiatives that have been criticized as pro-union, including the attempt to hold parent companies liable for workplace violations committed by franchisees.
The National Restaurant Association praised Robb's nomination following his confirmation hearing before the HELP committee on Wednesday. The industry group says he and the new Republican majority at the agency's five-member board can help boost the economy by reversing the Obama board's pro-union interpretation of labor laws.
"With the full board now in place and a new general counsel, the Board is well-positioned to re-examine the overreach of decisions made during the previous administration, especially the expanded joint employer standard," the association said in a statement. "We urge swift congressional confirmation of the general counsel post."
Labor watchdogs also said a change at the general counsel's office is needed. Heather Greenaway, spokesman for the Workforce Fairness Institute, said Robb would be a "dramatic improvement" over Griffin, who she called a "shill for union bosses."
"The Board badly needs balance, and the general counsel’s office serves the important function of investigating and prosecuting unfair labor practices, and supervising cases in field offices," she said in a statement. "Robb will add a level of commitment and adherence to the law that has been completely absent during Griffin’s tenure, and the U.S. Senate should not delay one day in advancing his nomination."
The Senate has yet to announce the date of Robb's confirmation vote.