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updated: 11/8/2017 4:24 PM

Senate confirms general counsel for labor board

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WASHINGTON -- The Senate on Wednesday confirmed President Donald Trump's nominee to serve as the next general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board, the agency responsible for refereeing disputes between businesses and unions.

Republicans predicted Peter Robb's confirmation would help the agency roll back decisions made during Barack Obama's presidency easing union participation.

The Senate approved Robb's confirmation on a party-line vote of 49-46.

Over the years, the Vermont lawyer has represented companies in labor contract negotiations and in wage and discrimination cases.

The general counsel investigates allegations of unfair labor practices and is the gatekeeper for bringing cases to the board for its consideration.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., says Robb's confirmation would help restore the NLRB to its role of "neutral umpire" in labor disputes. He said that a new Republican-nominated board is already "beginning to undo the damage of the past eight years" and Robb's confirmation would "build upon that good work."

Democrats said they had no confidence Robb will be neutral.

They also noted that he served as a counsel for the Federal Labor Relations Authority in a Reagan-era case which decertified the air traffic controllers union, leading to President Ronald Reagan firing 11,000 air-traffic controllers.

"Let's be clear about how Mr. Robb has chosen to spend his professional life: Helping management close plants and cut jobs, suing unions, delaying workers' rights to collectively bargain and defending companies that violate workplace safety and fair pay laws," said Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich.

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