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Gloves-Off: NLRB Union Staffers Protest Trump Board

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Since President Trump overhauled the makeup of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) last year, much change has been afoot. Aside from significant rulings being issued by the agency, various administrative and staffing changes have been contemplated and/or formally announced. The board also terminated its collective bargaining agreement with the union representing its staff members – the NLRB Professional Association – in order to renegotiate its terms. These changes have not been well received by at least some of the NLRB’s union-represented employees, as evidenced by formal protests by these workers against the agency.

 

According to new report from Bloomberg Law:

 

“National Labor Relations Board leaders faced a rare agency staff protest Nov. 8, the second such employee action in the current board’s first year. Career staffers at the NLRB protested and handed out leaflets outside an American Bar Association conference attended by board Chairman John Ring. They say the agency is trying to make more cuts to pay and benefits despite ending the fiscal year with a budget surplus, and that it terminated two long-standing collective bargaining contracts for most of its staff to renegotiate the terms. The protests are also aimed at Ring and General Counsel Peter Robb’s efforts to reverse the direction of federal labor policy and overhaul the agency, whose mission is to enforce workplace labor law and referee union elections. Senior career officials have said the moves and proposals made by President Donald Trump’s appointees would hobble the NLRB and gut American workers’ ability to file charges alleging unlawful workplace practices against employers. Workers at federal agencies sign up with their employee unions at a much higher rate than workers in the private sector do. But the picketing and other protest actions often associated with private unions are rare in the federal government. There have been indications of internal strife under other agency heads in the Trump administration. The NLRB staffers’ public criticism of their leaders takes on added significance, however, given the agency’s own role as one of the government’s main enforcers of workplace and union rights.”

 

The impending labor agreement negotiations between the agency and the union representing most of its workers likely will flesh out more of the issues weighing on at least some of the employees’ minds. Stay tuned to see how these developments continue to unfold.

David Pryzbylski

Recently recognized as one of the top under-40 labor lawyers in the nation by Law360, David J. Pryzbylski’s interest in labor relations began early in high school, having grown up next to several of the largest steel mills in the world. Today, David is a Partner in Barnes & Thornburg LLP’s Labor & Employment Department. Building on his interest in labor relations, he concentrates a large portion of his practice on assisting employers with traditional labor matters, including collective bargaining; work stoppages; arbitrations; union avoidance training and strategies; union representation elections; unfair labor practice charges; contract administration; and various other labor relations issues.

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