President Joe Biden caved to the demands of labor unions and fired the National Labor Relations Board’s top prosecutor on Wednesday, a move that many have labeled as “unprecedented.”
While members of the NLRB general counsel usually serve four-year terms, shortly after his inauguration, Biden pressured attorney Peter Robb to resign from his position before his tenure at the independent agency expired. Robb refused to resign, criticizing the decision in a letter to the Biden administration, saying the pressure seemed partisan coming from an executive branch that continues to peddle a message of unity.
“It was my understanding that the incoming administration intended to foster civility and unity in this country and in the governing of this country, promising to adhere to the rule of law and enabling its chief law enforcement officers the independence, free from White House interference, to enforce the laws of the United States,” Robb wrote. “A presidential removal of the NLRB’s General Counsel prior to the expiration of his or her term violates these promises and principles.”
Despite Robb’s concerns, Biden fired him following months of pressure from the large Service Employees International Union, which assisted the now-president on the campaign trail. In December, the union sent Biden a letter demanding Robb be removed, but not before coordinating with “allies in the labor movement” to persuade them to join the cause. According to reporting by the Huffington Post, the letter from the union claimed Robb is an “extreme, anti-union ideologue” and a “uniquely destructive figure” that damages the fight for labor relations.
Because of Robb’s record in breaking up large strikes, settling with McDonald’s after workers claimed the company and its franchises punished them for the “Fight for $15,” and generally opposing neutrality agreements between unions and employers, Robb’s firing comes as a big win for the SEIU and other progressive labor groups. It also opens the door for Biden to nominate a new prosecutor of his choosing for the labor agency.
There was a lot of angst inside the agency too, among lawyers who hated the restructuring Robb was doing. I spoke to some over the past few years. They felt like it was getting harder to pursue big cases and carry out the mission of protecting collective bargaining rights.
— Dave Jamieson (@jamieson) January 21, 2021