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Jennifer Abruzzo NLRB GC speaks into mic

General Counsel of the NLRB Urges Employees to Come to Her Agency to Protect Their Labor Rights



Room full of attendees

On June 6, 2023 the ILR Buffalo Co-Lab, with programing support from the NLRB and in conjunction with the NYS Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Law Section, the Western NY Area Labor Federation, and the Buffalo Central Labor Council, welcomed an all-star cast of current and former leaders of the NLRB. Over 150 people attended the event to hear from our panel. The featured speaker was Jennifer Abruzzo, the General Council of the NLRB, and she was accompanied by Former Chairman of the Board, Mark Gaston Pearce, former General Counsel of the NLRB, Linda Leslie, Regional Director for Region 3 and Jessica Cacaccio, Regional Attorney for Region 3. Cathy Creighton, director of the Cornell ILR Buffalo Co-Lab moderated the panel discussion.

The talk took place at a time of great change for American workers. Organizing and strike activity are at their highest levels in decades, and support for Unions, especially among young people is close to 80%. Tens of thousands of workers are looking to participate in decision making in their workplaces, and improve their standard of living and they can feel confident that that they have strong public support backing them.

Into this time comes NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo, a career “bureaucrat” who has worked in many areas of the Agency from the time she graduated law school until she was nominated by President Biden to become General Counsel. Ms. Abruzzo’s goals are far from routine or bureaucratic. She views her role as supporting workers’ rights across the country. Ms. Abruzzo’s General Counsel memos are a call to the public to come to the National Labor Relations Board as a place to find support for their rights in the workplace; including issues supportive of racial and gender justice in the workplace- social justice as protective concerted activity. Echoing Ms. Abruzzo’s call for action, Mark Pearce and Richard Griffin noted deficiencies in our almost 90 year old federal labor law and explained how pending federal legislation, the PRO Act, would expand the law to assist workers in organizing, obtaining a first contract, and provide for remedies which would incentivize employers from violating the law. The Buffalo Regional office of the NLRB noted that it has never been busier in its existence as employees are feeling empowered to uphold their voices and rights in the workplace.

Moderator Cathy Creighton listens to panel