U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he had picked an employment lawyer who has represented companies and business groups for a vacancy on the National Labor Relations Board. The selection of William Emanuel, 75, to fill one of the two vacancies at the agency brings it closer to having a Republican majority, which is expected to undo a series of recent decisions seen as favouring unions.
The five-member NLRB oversees union elections and disputes between workers, unions, and employers. Emanuel, a Los Angeles-based partner at law firm Littler Mendelson, has worked with Republicans in Congress and major trade groups from an array of industries and has for decades defended employers in cases before the board.
He is a member of the conservative Federalist Society, an influential group of lawyers credited with pushing Trump to nominate U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch to the high court. Emanuel said in a statement that it is an honour to be nominated.
Industry groups such as the National Retail Federation and the National Restaurant Association hailed Emanuel’s nomination, saying he would help repair damage done to businesses by rulings from the NLRB during the Barack Obama administration. Trump last week said he intended to nominate fellow Republican Marvin Kaplan, a lawyer with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, to another vacancy on the board. The positions require confirmation by the U.S. Senate.
The NLRB has been controlled by Democrats for nearly a decade and they currently have a 2-1 majority.
When it has no vacancies, the board typically includes three members from the president’s party and two from the opposing party. Under Trump, lawyers and business groups expect the board to roll back a series of policy changes adopted during the administration of former President Barack Obama.
They include rules designed to speed the union election process and a 2015 decision that made it easier for companies to be held liable for legal violations by contractors, staffing agencies, and franchisees. It was not clear when the Senate could vote on Trump’s nominees but several lawyers and other experts said the process could stretch into the fall. Kaplan previously worked for Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives crafting employment-related legislation.