Nearly three months after receiving his nomination, the United States Senate on September 25 confirmed William Emanuel to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Mr. Emanuel’s confirmation restores the Board to a long-awaited full complement of five members and creates a 3-2 Republican majority for the first time in approximately 10 years.
The confirmation of a fifth Member to the NLRB breaks a 2-2 partisan deadlock that has been in place since the confirmation of Marvin Kaplan on August 2, which itself was an improvement over the status quo ante. Prior to Kaplan’s confirmation, Board Chairman Philip A. Miscimarra remained outvoted 2-1 by his Democratic colleagues, who demonstrated no interest in abandoning their anti-employer agenda.
Now that the NLRB has a new majority that is unlikely to be as slanted toward organized labor, the Board will have plenty of work to do to restore balance to labor law. To that end, in February the U.S. Chamber published a report titled Restoring Common Sense to Labor Law: Ten Policies to Fix at the National Labor Relations Board that highlighted some of the Obama-era Board’s most egregious labor policy shifts. Perhaps that report will assist the new NLRB majority as it moves forward to correct several years of overreach in this area of policy.
However, as encouraging as it may be to finally to have the newest members of the NLRB in place, a note of caution is also in order. As observers of labor policy know well, not long after Kaplan’s confirmation, Chairman Miscimarra announced that he had declined to be reappointed to another term after his current one expires in December. That situation will again create a 2-2 deadlock on the Board until a replacement for him is nominated and confirmed.
The U.S. Chamber’s Workforce Freedom Initiative has been consistent in its call for a restoration of balance at the NLRB, and Emanuel’s confirmation is a welcome development to be sure. At the same time, once Mr. Miscimarra vacates his seat, one hopes a new nominee will be ready to take his place so the work of overturning the lopsided policies of the last several years can continue in earnest.