Meet Biden Labor Lawyer who wants to crack down on companies that have workers sitting through anti-union meetings

Jennifer Abruzzo

Jennifer Abruzzo, NLRB’s legal counsel.NLRB

  • Jennifer Abruzzo is a corporate lawyer for the National Labor Relations Commission, which plays an important role in labor law.

  • One of her big initiatives is to target companies that get their employees to attend anti-union meetings.

  • She also promotes a doctrine that makes it easier for workers to join the union.

Jennifer Abruzzo is quietly shaking the working conditions in the United States.

Abruzzo is a corporate lawyer for the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRB).she First woman To play an important perch in guiding the national labor law and how it is enacted.

Her appointment was one of the first actions in President Joe Biden’s quest. To do “The most pro-union president who leads the most pro-union government in American history.”

according to Bloomberg methodJust minutes after he swore, Biden dismissed former Trump corporate lawyer Peter Rob. It was a rare move, as the president-elect usually forces his predecessor’s appointed person to finish his term. The Washington Post ReportAnd one of the professional worker labor groups Will be told immediately..

Biden eventually tapped Abruzzo NLRB veteran He was an advisor to the Communications Workers of America.

“Since returning to July, a lot has come to my mind about what we need to do, whether it’s Trump’s precedent or not. I totally disagree,” Abruzzo told insiders. rice field.

Her goal was “to protect, enforce and educate,” she said. And she does so one note at a time. Her latest target: Captive Audience Meeting.

“The epitome of coercion”

Now that workers across the country are trying to form unions, many of them may be attending compulsory anti-union meetings hosted by management.

They are called “captive audience” meetings and are popular among bosses.According to the left side Economic Policy Research InstituteFrom 1999 to 2003, nearly 90% of employers facing the union movement had workers attend a prisoner-of-war audience meeting β€” and the majority of them held them weekly during the union campaign. Did.

“Workers are usually subject to a significant number of detained audiences,” Abruzzo said.Even if the employer does not make it Illegal statement During the meeting, “it has a coercive effect.”

Abruzzo said, “Workers have the right to refrain from listening to speech, just as they have the right to hear it, but they are so afraid of retaliation that they can leave. I don’t feel it. “

For example, David Isiah Thomas, an Amazon worker in Bessemer, Alabama, Filed a complaint NLRB said after Thomas asked the manager during a captive audience meeting, “I saw the employer’s agent orbiting his work area for purposes other than monitoring him.”

But that can all change quickly. In a memo to NLRB’s directors and officers, Abruzzo “encourages the board to rethink such precedents and consider this type of compulsory meeting illegal.”

It is a seismic change for commonly adopted tactics, Starbucks When Amazon They say they attended.Insider Catherine Long report Some workers in an Amazon warehouse based in Bessemer, Alabama were opposed to the union after a detained audience meeting and anti-union text.

Starbucks Union Buffalo

Mary Meisenzahl / Insider

Workers may be disciplined or dismissed if they do not attend the detained audience meeting or if they leave early. Abruzzo said that “safeguards” could be established by ensuring that attendance was voluntary, and workers would take no action against them. EPI reports that dismissals of union activities are on the rise.

“What we really are trying to do is prevent, if not explicit, the implicit threat and the fear that it will affect these economically dependent employees.

There is already a backlash from the business. Sean Redmond, vice president of labor policy at the US Chamber of Commerce on the right, said I have written If Abruzzo’s proposal is accepted, “it will deliberately quarrel with the employer” and “will hinder freedom of speech.”

And Abruzzo is just getting started

on Monday, Twitter thread From Abruzzo’s office, she submitted a brief explanation to the Board of Directors urging the Revival of Joysilk’s doctrine. This is an old standard that essentially indicates whether workers have formed a union and whether the majority of workers support it.

Employers now have the option of voluntarily approving trade unions or forcing them to vote in formal NLRB elections.

In essence, as a Fast Company ReportIt will make it much easier for workers to join the union β€” as opposed to continuous decline Union memberEven if the union’s approval reaches 68% Gallup..

It’s all happening when NLRB confronts budget constraints in a wave of trade union Said The number of union representative petitions surged 57% from October to March, and the number of unfair labor practices also surged. However, that budget has remained the same for the last nine years, and staffing has been reduced by 39% over the last decade. Field agents at the forefront of NLRB’s work have seen their staff cut in half.

β€œIn the days of our predecessors, there was little backfilling, especially to get more employees in the field, we need a budget,” Abruzzo added.

After all, “we are committed to encouraging collective bargaining,” Abruzzo said.

“That is the mission of our parliament. To encourage collective bargaining, promote industrial stability and productive labor relations, protect the rights of free-dating workers, and improve much of life. Is to engage in other activities, “she said. “That’s all of us.”

Read the original article Business Insider