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Democrats Pitch Trump Labor Nominee Deal (1)

Dec. 4, 2018, 8:23 PMUpdated: Dec. 4, 2018, 9:42 PM

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is in talks with Republicans about a package deal on Trump administration nominees that would get a former Obama official back on the National Labor Relations Board, sources familiar with the conversations tell Bloomberg Law.

Democrats would agree to speed up votes on a number of unidentified Labor Department nominees in exchange for a vote to confirm Mark Gaston Pearce for a Democratic seat on the five-member NLRB. Pearce, who served as the board’s chairman during the Obama administration, was nominated in August for another term despite concerns from business lobbyists.

No deal has been reached, the sources told Bloomberg Law. They spoke on condition of anonymity, citing their proximity to the discussions over Pearce’s nomination.

A Schumer spokesman denied Bloomberg Law’s Dec. 4 report that the Senate’s top Democrat on Dec. 3 spoke with the White House about a possible deal. “While Sen. Schumer fully supports Mr. Pearce’s nomination, he did not talk to ‘White House officials’ yesterday and this ‘pitch’ did not happen,” the spokesman said.

Corporate lobbyists have urged White House officials and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) not to give Pearce another term on the board. They’re concerned Pearce could work behind the scenes to slow down efforts to undo Obama-era decisions and regulations. They’re also worried he could wind up back in the chairman’s seat if a Democrat wins the White House in 2020.

The White House didn’t immediately respond to Bloomberg Law’s request for comment.

A number of Trump administration nominees are still awaiting confirmation. That includes Labor Department nominees Cheryl Stanton for the agency’s Wage and Hour Division, William Beach at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Scott Mugno at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and Gordon Hartogensis with the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

Senate Republicans likely have the votes to move those nominees without Democratic support, but McConnell has so far been unwilling to devote valuable floor time to voting on each pick individually. He has instead focused on moving President Donald Trump’s picks for judge seats. Trump will have to renominate anyone not confirmed by the end of this year, restarting the confirmation process.

Key Player in Labor Policy

Pearce in his role as NLRB chairman used a law establishing union rights to significantly expand protections for nonunion workers. He also penned a 2015 decision making it easier to require franchisers and businesses in staffing arrangements to collectively bargain with workers hired by another company.

Pearce was removed from the lead post when Republicans took control of the board last year. The NLRB has since issued a number of decisions to undo Obama administration rulings. The board has also proposed a new regulation that would scrap the decision to expand “joint employer” liability.

Some of those moves have been slowed by conflict-of-interest questions related to two Republican board members’ previous work as management-side lawyers.

(Updated to add comment from Schumer's spokesperson.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Opfer in New York at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jay-Anne B. Casuga at; Terence Hyland at