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NLRB General Counsel Releases Memorandum on Strengthening Inter-Agency Coordination

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Today, National Labor Relations Board General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo issued a memorandum to all field offices, committing to working closely with other federal agencies to fully effectuate the mission of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). In the memo, the General Counsel responds to recommendations recently outlined in the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment report with her plans for strengthening partnerships and encouraging field offices to foster partnerships locally.

“I agree that it’s crucial for federal agencies to collaborate to increase workers’ protections from systemic abuses, including discrimination, retaliation, and other mistreatment—while also working to promote equity in the workforce,” said General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo. “Stronger collaboration and networked enforcement will particularly assist those most vulnerable and will help to secure a voice at the table through union representation if workers so choose.”

General Counsel Abruzzo recently signed Memoranda of Understandings (MOUs) between the NLRB and Department of Labor (DOL)’s Wage and Hour Division and the Office of Labor-Management Standards and has initiated discussions with other agencies as well.  These MOUs establish ground rules for information-sharing, investigation, enforcement, training, and outreach. The NLRB is also partnering with DOL and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to establish a regular series of virtual webinars with targeted audiences that focuses on combating retaliation.

The memo details plans to strengthen partnerships with other agencies, including:

  • The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, the National Mediation Board, and the Department of Justice (DOJ)’s Civil Rights Division to establish effective inter-agency partnerships that go beyond traditional worker protection agencies, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The Internal Revenue Service, DOJ’s Antitrust Division, and the Federal Trade Commission to address unfair methods of competition that undermine workers’ rights. This includes coordination in order to: reduce employee misclassification and ensure that employers properly pay their employees and their employment taxes; create mechanisms for sharing data about acquisitions, mergers, or similar employer organizational actions that may detrimentally affect organizing or bargaining efforts, such that workers are more in need of whistleblower and retaliation protections; and give attention to non-disclosure, non-solicitation, and non-compete agreements that harm fair competition and violate employees’ rights under Section 7 of the NLRA. 
  • The Department of Homeland Security to strengthen the current MOU to avoid conflicts between workers’ rights and immigration enforcement agencies and to ensure that all workers, regardless of immigration status, have the full protections they need to freely assert their labor and employment rights, such as using prosecutorial discretion in cases involving workers who are victims of, or witnesses to, violations of workers’ rights statutes.
  • The General Counsel is also focused on promoting more education for workers, businesses, advocates, and the broader public through a robust outreach program, and she welcomes engagement with the Small Business Association to assist them with a resource guide for employers.

Established in 1935, the National Labor Relations Board is an independent federal agency that protects employees from unfair labor practices and protects the right of private sector employees to join together, with or without a union, to improve wages, benefits and working conditions. The NLRB conducts hundreds of workplace elections and investigates thousands of unfair labor practice charges each year.