Welcome

New NLRB Top Lawyer Ditches Second Set of Trump Policies (1)

Feb. 2, 2021, 9:17 PMUpdated: Feb. 2, 2021, 10:53 PM

A second batch of Trump-era NLRB policies landed in the dustbin on Tuesday, as the agency’s new top lawyer tossed out directives discouraging the use of investigative subpoenas and restricting labor board personnel from speaking to the public.

The National Labor Relations Board’s operations and management division, acting under the direction of Acting General Counsel Peter Sung Ohr, rolled back two operations memos that had been issued during the tenure of Ohr’s Trump-appointed predecessor, Peter Robb.

Rescinding the two operations memos gives back autonomy to regional directors who lead NLRB offices across the country.

Tuesday’s rollbacks followed Ohr’s withdrawal of 10 Robb memos on Monday.

Taken together, the moves highlight the immediate impact of President Joe Biden’s decision to fire Robb, an aggressive management attorney who riled labor unions through a series of actions seen as pro-employer, before his term as general counsel ended.

Worker advocates championed the move, which broke with precedent and has sparked outrage among some management attorneys and Republican lawmakers. The White House also sacked Robb’s top deputy, Alice Stock, after she was elevated to fill the acting general counsel post, clearing the way for Ohr’s appointment.

Withdrawn Memos

Tuesday’s memo from Beth Tursell, head of the Division of Operations-Management, pulled back a March 2019 initiative apparently designed to limit regional directors’ use of subpoenas to get information from companies and unions accused of violating federal labor law.

That Trump-era directive discouraged regional directors from issuing subpoenas against charged parties if they refused to cooperate with the agency’s investigation. Instead, it told RDs to consider noting the lack of cooperation if they issue a complaint against a recalcitrant party.

Charged-party cooperation or lack thereof shouldn’t be included in complaints, Tursell said in the memo.

“Regional Directors maintain full discretion to issue pre-compliant investigative subpoenas” consistent with the agency’s case-handling procedures, she added.

The second spiked directive, issued in January 2020, required non-supervisory personnel to get approval from the general counsel’s office to perform outreach by speaking at conferences and other events.

“Going forward, Regional Directors or their designees will make determinations as to which staff members will perform each of these functions,” Tursell said.

(Updated with additional reporting throughout. )

To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Iafolla in Washington at riafolla@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: John Lauinger at jlauinger@bloomberglaw.com; Martha Mueller Neff at mmuellerneff@bloomberglaw.com

To read more articles log in. To learn more about a subscription click here.