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Senate Restores Lone Democratic Member to Labor Board

July 29, 2020, 10:03 PM

The U.S. Senate confirmed the second of two National Labor Relations Board nominees Wednesday, adding a Democrat for the first time in nearly eight months.

The Senate voted 53-42 to confirm Lauren McFerran, returning her to the board as its sole Democrat. Earlier in the day, the chamber re-confirmed Marvin Kaplan as the NLRB’s third Republican member, ensuring GOP dominance of the panel for at least another year.

Both Kaplan and McFerran will be serving their second terms on the agency’s five-seat leadership panel, which has one remaining Democratic vacancy. The other current members, Chairman John Ring and member William Emanuel, are both Republicans.

Each member’s term is five years. Ring’s will end December 16, 2022, and Emanuel’s runs out August 27, 2021, giving the GOP indomitable control over the NLRB for at least another year, regardless of who wins the presidential election in November.

McFerran’s restoration to the board means there will be a dissenting voice on significant case decisions and rulemakings, assuming the Republican majority continues its pattern under the Trump administration of restoring pro-employer policies and giving businesses an edge over unions.

Opinions of dissenting NLRB members often have an effect beyond merely laying out arguments in opposition to a legal precedent or policy. They can lay groundwork future appointees rely upon when the partisan majority on the leadership panel shifts and new members reconsider policies to regulate private sector union organizing and labor practices.

The board’s second Democratic seat has been empty since August 2018 and could remain vacant for some time. Former Chairman Mark Pearce withdrew his name from consideration for another term after facing opposition from the business community and some Republican lawmakers.

Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate labor committee, and Patty Murray (D-Wash), ranking member, both indicated June 3 that the White House has rejected proposals to fill the seat.

To contact the reporters on this story: Ian Kullgren in Washington at ikullgren@bloombergindustry.com; Hassan A. Kanu in Washington at hkanu@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Andrew Harris at aharris@bloomberglaw.com; John Lauinger at jlauinger@bloomberglaw.com

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