The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

NLRB Nominees Win Committee Approval

On July 19, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) favorably reported out President Trump’s nominations of Marvin Kaplan and William Emanuel to be members of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Approved in a 12-11 vote along party lines, Kaplan’s and Emanuel’s nominations now advance to the full Senate for consideration.

Kaplan, counsel to the commissioner of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, previously served as counsel to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the House Education and the Workforce Committee. Emanuel is a shareholder at the law firm Littler Mendelson PC in Los Angeles. If confirmed by the Senate, Kaplan and Emanuel would bring decades of labor relations expertise to the NLRB and return the Board to a Republican majority for the first time since December 2007.

The committee’s vote comes a little less than a week following a joint hearing to consider both the nominations of Kaplan and Emanuel as well as President Trump’s nomination of Patrick Pizzella to be Deputy Labor Secretary.

At the July 13 hearing, Democrats on the committee voiced concerns with the past work of the nominee, including Kaplan’s history drafting legislation with the House Education and Workforce Committee and Emanuel’s work on behalf of employers as a management-side practitioner, questioning if they are biased in favor of employers. Republicans, on the other hand, expressed frustration at the NLRB’s agenda for the past eight years and highlighted several cases where the Board reversed many years of NLRA precedent including the Columbia University decision.

While Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) was critical that the committee was holding hearings for the NLRB and DOL simultaneously, Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) made clear that positions on the NLRB “have sat vacant [for too long] — one for 23 months since President Obama declined to nominate a Republican for the then-minority seat, and the other for 11 months,” and that Pizzella should be a noncontroversial nominee, as he “brings a wealth of relevant experience in both Democratic and Republican administrations.”

Pizzella currently serves as acting chairman of the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) and has served as a member of the FLRA since November 2013 after being nominated by President Obama. He has nearly two decades of experience in the federal government, nearly half of those focusing on labor policy matters, and promised that if confirmed he would do his “best to advance the president’s and Secretary of Labor Acosta’s agenda for America’s workforce.”