Trump’s NLRB pick is a giant slap in the face to labor unions

President Trump’s nomination of management-side employment attorney Peter Robb, the lead attorney in the 1980’s case that resulted in the decertification of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization, for the powerful position as general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board is a slap in the face to labor unions.

President Donald Trump’s pick for the general counsel position at the National Labor Relations Board is a clear signal that he has nothing but disdain for the Labor Movement.

Bloomberg BNA ( reports:

President Donald Trump’s nominee for the top attorney job at the NLRB argued against a now-defunct air traffic controllers union in a case that critics consider a key event contributing to decades of decline in union membership and wage stagnation.

Peter Robb was nominated Sept. 15 by the White House to serve as general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board. Robb was the lead attorney in a controversial case that resulted in the firing of thousands of striking workers and the decertification of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization. That experience should raise a red flag for unions and Democrats already concerned about what the labor board will do when it eventually gets a Republican majority and a GOP lawyer in the general counsel position.


“The PATCO case was probably the most important labor conflict of the last part of the 20th century,” Joseph McCartin, a labor historian and professor at Georgetown University’s Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor, told Bloomberg BNA.

Robb, a management-side employment lawyer at Downs Rachlin Martin in Vermont, would fill a general counsel role that comes with independent authority to initiate enforcement against employers or unions and to select which complaints the board will adjudicate. He is set to replace outgoing general counsel Richard Griffin in arguably the most powerful position at the NLRB.

“Mr. Robb brings 40 years of experience practicing the National Labor Relations Act in both government and in private practice, making him eminently qualified to serve as General Counsel of the NLRB,” a White House spokesman told Bloomberg BNA. “His previous service at the FLRA over 30 years ago has little to do with the National Labor Relations Act or with the mission of the NLRB, which focuses on private sector employment matters. The FLRA’s mission is entirely confined to Federal Government employment and public sector unions.”


The PATCO dispute over pay and working conditions started well before the government and the Federal Labor Relations Authority filed unfair labor practice charges against the union in 1981. President Ronald Reagan’s administration eventually broke what a court said was an unlawful strike by the air traffic controllers. Reagan held a press conference in the White House Rose Garden where he announced the firing of more than 11,000 striking workers.

The subsequent FLRA case Robb spearheaded resulted in PATCO’s decertification, and most of the striking workers were banned from the federal service for life by the Reagan administration.

(Labor 411)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top