Chamber of Commerce labels Biden removal of NLRB general counsel ‘extreme’
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce requested President Biden immediately reinstate Peter Robb, the former National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) general counsel, who he fired on Inauguration Day.
The pro-business lobbying group sent a letter to Biden on Monday criticizing him for firing Trump appointee Robb and his chief deputy counsel Alice Stock, asking that he reverse the decision, and implying that the decision was due to pressure from labor leaders.
The Chamber and other groups on the letter, including the American Trucking Associations and National Restaurant Association, called Biden’s actions “extreme” and requested that Robb be able to complete his term that expires on Nov. 16.
“The removal of an incumbent General Counsel of the NLRB is an extraordinary breach of longstanding precedent that threatens to upend the independence of that office. No president since the establishment of the independent Office of General Counsel to the NLRB in 1947 has ever removed a sitting General Counsel before the end of their term,” they wrote.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The letter argues that this action from Biden could politicize enforcement and undermine the credibility of the NLRB. The Biden administration has said that Robb was fired because he was not carrying out the objectives of the NLRB.
The Chamber mentioned that Obama-era NLRB General Counsel Richard Griffin was kept on by President Trump “notwithstanding General Counsel Griffin’s consistent pattern of taking positions contrary to the administration’s position on various labor law issues.”
An NLRB general counsel hasn’t been asked to resign since 1950, when President Truman asked for the resignation of Robert Denham because of an anti-union bill. Denham resigned, meaning Robb was the first general counsel to be fired by a president since the role was created.
“On January 20, 2021, your Inauguration speech emphasized national unity and the importance of all Americans working together. Minutes after you took your Oath of Office, however, you delivered an ultimatum to NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb to resign or be fired by 5:00 p.m. that day,” according to the Chamber letter to Biden.
Biden nominated Jennifer Abruzzo, the special counsel to the Communication Workers of America, to serve as NLRB general counsel last month.
Other groups on the letter include the National Grocer Association, Workplace Policy Institute, National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors and HR Policy Association.
Republican lawmakers have also questioned whether any labor leaders exerted pressure to oust Robb, with Sen. Richard Burr (N.C.) and Rep. Virginia Foxx (N.C.) criticizing Biden over the controversial move.