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Top Labor Board Lawyer Blasted by Agency’s Field Staff Union

Nov. 17, 2022, 9:23 PM

The union representing National Labor Relations Board field staffers accused General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo of exacerbating the agency’s ongoing staffing crisis by trying to bring back pre-pandemic remote working arrangements.

Abruzzo, who serves as personnel chief for most of the NLRB’s staff, informed the National Labor Relations Board Union that the agency will let lapse a policy that’s allowed staffers more opportunities to work from home, the union said in a series of tweets Thursday.

The field staffer union making public accusations against Abruzzo highlights the importance of remote work as the pandemic grinds on. The union has been in negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement this year.

The agency rolled out its telework policy when it brought workers back to offices this spring following full-time remote work because of Covid-19. Codified in a memorandum of understanding, the policy first allowed workers 10 days of remote work per pay period, and gradually reduced that number to five, the union said.

The MOU permitting five days of telework every two weeks is set to expire Dec. 23. Remote work would then drop to three days per pay period under the pre-Covid arrangement.

Longtime NLRB employees are taking jobs elsewhere, and applicants are turning down job offers because they want more flexible work schedules, the union said.

Abruzzo said she agrees with the union that the agency needs more resources.

“We are committed to working with the NLRBU to reach a new collective bargaining agreement that increases telework for NLRB employees beyond what is provided under our current Memorandum of Understanding and ensures that we can effectively do the important work of protecting workers’ rights in this country,” Abruzzo said in a statement.

The union representing staffers at NLRB headquarters said that, during contract negotiations, agency leadership has agreed to expand telework provisions.

“Agency field staff are not second-class employees and the Agency should not limit their ability to telework in order to extract bargaining concessions,” Karen Cook, president of the National Labor Relations Board Professional Association, said in a statement.

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

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Genevieve Douglas at gdouglas@bloomberglaw.com