With Panel Vote Looming, AFL-CIO Formally Opposes NLRB Nominees

Published: July 19, 2017

With the confirmation vote looming, the AFL-CIO formally opposed GOP President Donald Trump’s two nominees to the National Labor Relations Board, management-side lawyers Marvin Kaplan of the D.C. area and William Emanuel of Los Angeles.  It says the two appear not to even believe in the board’s mission.

But the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee was expected to brush the fed’s objections aside and approve the two by party-line votes on July 19.

If confirmed by the full Senate – and its Democrats can’t filibuster their nominations any more – Kaplan, a former right-wing GOP congressional aide, and Emanuel, whose current firm engages in union-busting, would give the board a 3-2 Republican majority. That would set up potential reversals of many pro-worker Obama era NLRB rulings.

“Without a private right of action, working people must depend on the NLRB to enforce their rights. The NLRB’s decisions and actions have a significant impact on the lives of working Americans,” AFL-CIO Legislative Director Bill Samuel told senators.

“By tradition, presidents appoint a majority of members to the NLRB from their own political party, and in keeping with that tradition, President Trump” appointed Kaplan and Emanuel. “Unfortunately, after reviewing their records and statements at their confirmation hearing, the AFL-CIO concluded we must oppose these nominees and urge the Senate to reject these nominations.

“Notwithstanding the clear purpose and mission of the agency to which they have been nominated – to protect and encourage the practice of collective bargaining — nothing in the background or statements of either nominee provides any assurance that either Kaplan or Emanuel would be guided and motivated by this basic mission,” Samuel explained.

He cited Emanuel’s statement at the panel’s July 12 confirmation hearing that he’s never represented a worker or a union. And “Kaplan has never practiced labor law,” Samuel said. “His sole experience with labor law is on a policy level, drafting legislation to weaken worker protections under the National Labor Relations Act and holding hearings to criticize the NLRB during the Obama administration.

“Neither man said anything at the confirmation hearing to give working people any confidence that they would vigorously enforce the NLRA consistent with the law’s purpose of protecting workers’ right to organize and promoting collective bargaining,” Samuel said.

Both men have participated in “relentless attacks” by lawmakers and business on the agency and battled to overturn its key rules, and didn’t disavow those attacks at the hearing, Samuel noted. And nothing they said “suggests they would bring a less hostile, and more pro-NLRA view to their work, should they be confirmed.”  Both nominees also refused to abstain on cases – such those pitting arbitration against labor law – where their writings and views showed they prejudged the issues involved, he added.