New NLRB Leader Identifies Possible Changes

Employers who have watched the National Labor Relations Board — the nation’s primary enforcer of labor law — over the years anticipate that it will reshuffle its priorities soon after the White House changes parties. The agency swore in Jennifer Abruzzo as its new general counsel on July 22, 2021; and three weeks later, Abruzzo released an internal memorandum that is a blueprint for changes to the law she would like to see the agency implement.

The general counsel’s memorandum is not binding, and it is not a perfect picture of how labor law will change. Instead, it is a list of issues that the general counsel wants to tee up for the other political appointees in the agency — the five members of the Board itself — who can change the law. In order to enact a change, the Board must either publish a new rule or decide a case on that topic. The general counsel usually cannot present all of his or her priority issues to the Board before it changes party control again; and even when the Board considers an issue, there is no guarantee it will agree with the general counsel’s position, or that a federal court will enforce the Board’s decision on appeal.

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