President Joe Biden has nominated Gwynne Wilcox, a partner in a New York law firm specializing in employee rights, to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
Three of the five members of the NLRB are traditionally members of the president’s party. At present, there are four members seated, three of whom are Republican because of the staggering of terms. The term of Republican member William J. Emanuel will expire on August 27, 2021, enabling the Biden Administration to nominate another member, presumably, establishing a 3-2 Democrat majority. If the Senate approves Wilcox, she will take her position immediately.
Wilcox has had a distinguished labor career, including (among other roles) working as a field attorney in NLRB Region 2 in New York and as counsel for 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. She is a board member of the Brandworkers, a group working with the International Workers of the World to organize food workers. She is also on the national board of the Workers Defense League. Wilcox has been accorded numerous accolades for her work.
However, the activism of attorney Wilcox and her firm raises some interesting questions. In 2018, Board member William Emanuel was criticized for participating in a case regarding the NLRB’s definition of “joint employer” – a hot issue for both employers and labor – because of his former law firm’s representation of clients in related cases. Ultimately, due to the controversy, the NLRB withdrew a decision and later issued a formal rule defining “joint employer.” It is widely expected that once the NLRB majority shifts, Board decisions will take a pro-labor turn. It is believed that the joint employer issue will be revived, possibly by issuance of a new rule. Wilcox and her firm represented litigants arguing for a broader interpretation of “joint employer.” Senate confirmation hearings reportedly are expected to focus on the potential recusal of Wilcox from this and other issues if seated.
For more information, contact the Jackson Lewis attorney with whom you work.