Lawmakers Confirm Kaplan to Labor Board, Delay Emanuel Nomination

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By Hassan A. Kanu

The Senate confirmed Marvin Kaplan’s appointment to the National Labor Relations Board Aug. 2 but won’t move on William Emanuel’s nomination until after the August recess, a Democratic staffer for the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee told Bloomberg BNA.

Emanuel’s confirmation would give the five-member NLRB its first Republican majority in almost a decade. Conservatives and the business community would then be well-positioned to reverse a series of labor and employment measures from President Barack Obama’s administration that they’ve long protested.

Kaplan and Emanuel are likely to take another look at a board decision that expanded joint employer liability for affiliated businesses. Business advocates are hoping the board will also undo a ruling that allows “micro-units” of workers to collectively bargain with their employer and another that reduced the amount of time necessary to form a union.

Democrat lawmakers have voiced their opposition to both nominees, and as the time for a Senate vote approached Aug. 2, a number spoke on the chamber’s floor against Kaplan’s confirmation.

Murray Expresses ‘Deep Reservations’

Kaplan as a former House Republican staffer prepared hearings in which Republicans consistently attacked the NLRB’s mission, said Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), ranking member of the HELP committee.

“In addition to Mr. Kaplan’s opposition to the core mission of the board, I also have deep reservations about Mr. Kaplan’s lack of legal experience practicing before the NLRB,” she said. Murray noted that Kaplan confirmed to her during a hearing that he’s never represented a party—employer or union—in a case before the board.

Conservative senators at the session generally spoke on other issues, such as health care and immigration and about the need to confirm more high-level nominees so the government can function smoothly. Kaplan was confirmed on a 50-48 party-line vote by the GOP-controlled Senate.

Republicans have argued that the nominees are both well-qualified. They have countered Democrats’ allegations that both nominees are biased because they’ve only represented employers by noting that many practitioners represent either workers or employers exclusively.

Emanuel is also expected to be confirmed, eventually. The Senate will vote for cloture on his nomination after the August recess, the staffer told Bloomberg BNA. The cloture vote kicks off a 30-hour period of debate. A final confirmation vote will then be scheduled.

Kaplan is a former Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission lawyer. Emanuel is a former shareholder and management-side lawyer at Littler Mendelson PC in Los Angeles.

To contact the reporter on this story: Hassan A. Kanu in Washington at hkanu@bna.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peggy Aulino at maulino@bna.com; Terence Hyland at thyland@bna.com; Chris Opfer at copfer@bna.com

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