“Our congressional mandate is to protect workers’ rights, so we want to take them back to the place where they were before their rights were violated,” National Labor Relations Board General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo told CBS News Money Watch reporter Kate Gibson in an August interview. “Did they need to move, get training to find another job or incur medical expenses due to the loss of coverage?”
Abruzzo has been a fierce advocate for workers in her post at the Board, drawing the ire of many in the business world. She told Gibson during her interview that the previous Board acted in the best interest of companies. “We are a neutral, independent federal agency that enforces a pro-worker statute, and I don’t believe the Trump board majority kept that in mind,” Abruzzo said.
Abruzzo has been making the rounds to publicly draw attention to the fact that her agency is understaffed and painfully underfunded. “The NLRB is pursuing the agency’s biggest case load in years with the lowest staffing levels in six decades,” she said.
Her agency has been underfunded for more than a decade with repeated rounds of flat funding frozen at around $274 million. The NLRB employee union representatives say that the agency has lost more than 30 percent of its staff since 2010, and last saw its budget increased in 2014.
President Biden’s budget for the next fiscal year includes $319.4 million for the NLRB, a 16% increase. That increase would help the agency immensely as they face a surge in union organizing drives. Abruzzo has been actively lobbying Congress for their increase.
In June, the NLRB reported it had seen a 57 percent increase in NLRB union election petitions. A recent Bloomberg Law report stated that in the first half of 2022, unions had successfully organized a total of 43,092 workers, which it notes is more than double the number of workers organized during the same period in 2021, or all of 2021, for that matter.
“I’d like to remind all those on the Hill that all of us, workers around the country, elected them,” Abruzzo said in the Money Watch interview. “There are millions and millions of workers across this country, and our job is to protect their rights. They should be funding us appropriately.”