Bloomberg Law
Jan. 21, 2021, 11:43 PMUpdated: Jan. 22, 2021, 1:01 AM

Biden Fires NLRB’s Number Two Lawyer One Day After Her Boss (1)

Ian Kullgren
Ian Kullgren

President Joe Biden fired the second-highest-ranking attorney at the National Labor Relations Board a day after ousting her superior, leaving leadership of the agency’s legal arm in limbo as the new administration seeks to reorient the board away from the Trump administration’s business-centric focus.

Alice Stock assumed the role of acting general counsel following the Inauguration Day firing of the NLRB’s top attorney, Peter Robb, an agency spokesperson said in a statement late Thursday morning.

But the labor board was told later on Thursday that Stock too would be dismissed, effective at 5 p.m., the NLRB spokesperson said in a subsequent statement. The spokesperson declined to say whether a new acting general counsel had been appointed.

The NLRB enforces private-sector workers’ rights to organize, and its general counsel has sweeping authority—much like a prosecutor—to determine which types of cases the agency does or doesn’t pursue.

Robb, a former management-side attorney who helped Ronald Reagan break the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization in 1981, had pushed an aggressive, pro-business agenda at the labor board.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki addressed the firings during a briefing with reporters on Thursday, when asked if it was an effort to purge Trump administration officials. She described Robb as “an individual who was not carrying out…the objectives of the NLRB,” and added: “They’re no longer in their position.”

Psaki didn’t mention how the leadership void would be filled, though people who follow the NLRB closely said they expect the White House to select union-friendly attorneys to replace Stock and Robb. Earlier, White House media representatives didn’t respond to an emailed request for comment.

Stock was named deputy general counsel by Robb in 2019, and previously was a management-side attorney. She was a partner at Pryor Cashman in New York for eight years, helping employers defend themselves against unfair labor practice charges and advising businesses in collective bargaining disputes and strikes, according to the agency’s website.

(Updated with White House press secretary's comments, in 6th, 7th paragraphs. )

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