President Donald Trump’s pick to fill the last labor board vacancy Tuesday could finally shift the political focus of an agency that businesses have condemned as becoming overly activist.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is tasked with overseeing labor and union dispute cases. Business leaders have expressed concern over how political the board had become during the last administration. Employment lawyer William Emanuel could soon change that by giving the Republicans majority control.
The NLRB is a five-member board that is supposed to act as an impartial judicial body. The president, however, is able to influence the board politically by who is nominated to fill the majority of seats. The business community voiced optimism with the new appointment.
“The National Restaurant Association applauds the selection of William Emanuel as a nominee to the National Labor Relations Board,” Cicely Simpson, the executive vice president of the National Restaurant Association, said in a statement provided to InsideSources. “Given the Board’s broad overreach during the previous administration and harmful decisions on joint employer, ambush elections, and micro-unions, we welcome the balance and fairness that Mr. Emanuel will bring to the Board.”
The NLRB drew particular opposition for changes it made to the joint-employer standard. The standard determines whether an employer is responsible for the employees and labor liabilities of a company it contracts with. The International Franchise Association (IFA) has been at the forefront of opposing the changes.
“Franchise owners around the country are facing a great deal of regulatory uncertainty as a result of the wreckage created by the previous administration,” IFA President Robert Cresanti said in a statement provided to InsideSources. “We urge the Senate to confirm both [Marvin] Kaplan and Emanuel quickly so the new labor board can address regulatory issues facing the franchise model as quickly as possible.”
Emanuel currently works as an employment lawyer in Los Angeles for the law firm Littler Mendelson. He has worked on cases involving union contract negotiations, strikes, and collective bargaining administration. He has particular expertise on laws that determine union access to employer’s private property.
“Mr. Emanuel is a highly qualified and well-respected labor attorney who will bring decades of relevant expertise to the board,” David French, the senior vice president for government relations at the National Retail Federation, said. “Retailers are confident that he will be a fair arbiter of the law and urge the Senate to confirm him promptly.”
Former President Barack Obama saw much of his workforce agenda implemented through board decisions. The NLRB established new precedent for contracting and union elections, and it created micro-unions. Trump has the chance to reverse the trend if his nominations get approved.
“Over the past eight years, the retail industry and employers across the country have faced a crushing regulatory burden that has created immense uncertainty in labor relations and made it much harder to grow,” French said. “Much of this uncertainty has stemmed from the NLRB’s pursuit of an activist agenda that consistently put the interests of labor unions before the rights of employers and employees. Both job creators and employees will benefit from a more balanced approach in labor relations.”
Philip Miscimarra was named to serve as the chairman of the board April 24. Miscimarra was already a member and serving as the acting chairman. Marvin Kaplan was nominated June 19 to fill the other empty seat. The Senate will first have to approve both nominations for Kaplan and Emanuel before the administration gains majority control.
Trump has also managed to fill other positions that could prove critical to his workforce focused agenda. Alexander Acosta was confirmed as the current secretary of labor April 27. Trump also announced his intent to nominate Patrick Pizzella to serve as the deputy secretary of labor.