21 January 2021

President Biden: “The Most Pro-Union President You’ve Ever Seen”

On his first day in office, President Biden’s administration called on Peter Robb, National Labor Relations Board General Counsel, to resign.  When Robb refused, Biden took the unprecedented step of terminating Robb’s appointment.

Robb was appointed by Former President Trump and had ten months left in his confirmed term as NLRB General Counsel.

Labor unions, including the Service Employees International Union and Communications Workers of America, had been vocal in their call for Biden to terminate Robb.

This step strongly reinforces Biden’s public pro-union agenda and likely signals actions to come. Biden, who pledged on the eve of the election to be “the most pro-union president you’ve ever seen,” seems to be making good on his promise.

Rounding out his day, Biden named Member Lauren McFerran, the sole Democratic member of the NLRB, as the Chairman, replacing previous Chairman John Ring.  It is expected that Biden will fill the fifth seat of the NLRB in the near future. Biden will have the opportunity to appoint a third Democratic member after Member Emanuel’s term expires in August.

One critical piece of legislation to watch is the Protecting the Right to Organize Act of 2019 (“PRO”).  The law was passed by the House of Representatives in February 2020, but stalled in the Senate.  The PRO Act would dramatically change current labor law, including:

  • Return to the NLRB’s 2015 election rules that cut short the time period between filing of petition and actual election.
  • Provide a private cause of action for unfair labor practices.
  • Introduce new civil penalties for labor law violations, such as liquidated damages.
  • Require binding arbitration for first contracts.

We expect this Act to be revived with a meaningful chance of being enacted.

With today’s developments and what seems to be on the horizon, employers who believe remaining union free is an important part of their culture should take extra care to protect and promote their culture.

We will keep you updated with further developments.