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Ex-Labor Board Official Takes on Union Strategy Role

Feb. 8, 2018, 6:30 PM

The Communications Workers of America has added a 23-year labor board veteran to work on the union’s board strategies and initiatives.

Jennifer Abruzzo started a post as special counsel for strategic initiatives at the CWA last week, she told Bloomberg Law Feb. 7. Abruzzo will be the union’s point person on National Labor Relations Board issues at its headquarters in Washington, D.C.

“I’ll be straddling both the CWA general counsel’s office and the president’s office in terms of ensuring that our initiatives are legally and politically sound and defensible,” Abruzzo said. “It’s a good transition because I was helping to protect workers’ rights when I was at the board for almost 23 years and I’m continuing to do that with the CWA.”

Abruzzo retired in January after about four years as deputy general counsel at the National Labor Relations Board. She was also acting general counsel for a brief stint months before current General Counsel Peter Robb (R) was confirmed by the Senate.

Abruzzo said she’s “been heavily involved in discussions” regarding two moves that Robb and his staff have recently said they’re considering. Robb is floating possible changes to the labor board’s case-processing procedures. He has also proposed an overhaul of the regional office system that’s already drawn concerns from regional directors.

The CWA didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The union represents 700,000 private and public sector workers in the news media, telecommunications, IT, the airline industry and other fields.

Robb named John W. Kyle his deputy general counsel early in January. Kyle, who came out of retirement for the job, was formerly an NLRB field agent and counsel to a board member in the mid-1980’s.

The deputy general counsel spot is a political appointment—meaning it can be made on a partisan basis—but doesn’t require White House input or Senate confirmation.

Abruzzo Rejected for Board Position

Former NLRB General Counsel Richard Griffin (D) recommended Abruzzo for a vacant regional director position in Baltimore late last year. She was later turned down for the job by Office of Personnel Management, according to sources who spoke with Bloomberg Law on the condition of anonymity.

A Republican-majority board and then-Chairman Phil Miscimarra (R) approved the appointment. OPM, which declined Bloomberg Law’s request for comment, decided against the move.

OPM is an independent federal agency that manages the government’s civilian workforce.

The NLRB didn’t immediately respond to a Bloomberg Law request for comment on the matter.

Abruzzo will also help train CWA attorneys, assist the union with litigation, and help with legislative initiatives, she said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Hassan A. Kanu in Washington at hkanu@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com

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