JudicialTexas Nurse’s Case Raises Questions About Biden’s Firing of Labor Board General Counsel

A Corpus Christi nurse filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, which has now been caught up in a larger issue about whether President Biden can fire the general counsel appointed by former President Trump.
March 10, 2021
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A Corpus Christi nurse’s challenge before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is raising issues about President Biden’s unprecedented firing of the board’s general counsel before his term had expired. 

In 2018, Marissa Zamora began the proceeding based on an unfair labor practice with help from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. She was employed at Corpus Christi Medical Center and posted flyers to inform fellow workers about an effort to decertify the nurses’ union (National Nurses Organizing Committee – Texas) as the bargaining unit for nurses employed at the hospital.

Zamora claims in her complaint that her flyers were removed repeatedly while other flyers were allowed to remain. When she asked about the removal, Zamora said she was told that the hospital was not allowed to facilitate the decertification efforts because of an agreement that existed. 

When Zamora asked for a copy of the agreement from either her employer or the union, none was provided.

Zamora then filed unfair labor charges against her employer and the union with the NLRB based on a failure of the union to provide a copy of the agreement and accusing the union representative of failing to represent her in good faith.

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The complaint was investigated by the regional director then forwarded to the NLRB general counsel, Peter Robb, who agreed to move forward, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation Vice-President Patrick Semmens told The Texan.  

After an administrative law judge found that no evidence of the agreement existed, Zamora’s case progressed to the NLRB in Washington, D.C. The appeal was fully briefed and ready for the NLRB to render a decision when, according to Semmens, something unprecedented happened.

On Inauguration Day, the Biden administration demanded the resignation of Robb and his deputy and replaced him with acting general counsel Peter Ohr.

Ohr then filed a motion asking the NLRB to remand Zamora’s complaint for dismissal by the Regional Director or alternately to dismiss the complaint itself.

“From our perspective, the NLRB must address Robb’s firing because it doesn’t comply with the National Labor Relations Act so Ohr is acting without legal authority,” Semmens said.

According to the foundation, the “general counsel of the Board does not serve at the pleasure of the President.” Since the position was established in 1947, no sitting general counsel of the NLRB has been fired by a president before the end of his four-year term.

Robb was appointed by Trump in 2017 and his term was set to expire in November of this year. When Trump took office, the general counsel at the time, Richard Griffin who was appointed by President Obama, completed his term. 

If the NLRB dismisses Zamora’s case, she can appeal it to a federal appellate court where the question of the general counsel’s firing could also be raised, Semmens said.

There is no strict timeline for when the NLRB will make a decision. However, Semmens pointed out that the term of one of the members of the NLRB who was appointed by President Trump will be expiring in August. “There can be a flurry of activity near the end of one’s term,” Semmons added.

Corpus Christi Medical Center responded to The Texan only by saying it is not a party to the case, and that the agreement is over a decade old and no longer in effect.

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Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts is a reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.