Senate OKs Biden NLRB picks, giving board pro-worker majority

WASHINGTON —By virtually identical almost party-line votes, the Senate confirmed Democratic President Joe Biden’s two remaining National Labor Relations Board nominees, pro-worker labor lawyers David Prouty and Gwynne Wilcox.

When they take their seats in late August, Prouty and Wilcox will replace two right-wing Donald Trump-named GOP board members, giving Democrats the 3-2 board majority. That cheers pro-worker forces, who have seen even the current majority-GOP board roll back some of the nastier moves enacted during Republican Oval Office occupant Donald Trump’s regime.

Wilcox, who will be the first-ever Black woman NLRB member, won 52-47, garnering all 48 Democrats, both independents and Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. The rest of the Republicans—one was absent—voted no.

Wilcox, from New York, “has been a staunch advocate for the rights and dignity of working people” as a pro-worker attorney and partner in the Levy, Ratner law firm, whose offices are in the same building as the headquarters of the Office and Professional Employees.

“Gwynne has also worked effectively with employer representatives to achieve fair and just results. She will be a valuable addition to the NLRB,” the firm added.

“I am privileged and honored to represent working people, who are not often valued for their important contributions to their workplaces and the greater society, and to work towards advancing and protecting their rights,” Wilcox said in a statement on the firm’s website.

Prouty won 53-46, with Alaska’s GOP other senator, Mark Sullivan, joining those who voted for Wilcox. Prouty’s the longtime top lawyer for Service Employees Local 32BJ and also a successful advocate for the Fight For $15 And A Union campaign.

Seating Prouty on the NLRB is “a home run for strengthening labor rights and worker-centered standards in our country, and restoring the NLRB’s core function to protect the interests of workers,” 32BJ President Kyle Bragg said when Biden nominated Prouty.

“While we’ll miss his steady counsel, which has been invaluable in his time at 32BJ and especially through one of our union’s–and our country’s–most difficult periods, we’re thrilled at the possibility he’ll put his ardent commitment to workers in the service of millions of families in our nation.”

After the Senate vote, SEIU tweeted: “Today’s confirmation of Dave Prouty to the National Labor Relations Board is a welcome step towards reversing Trump appointees’ attacks on working people. Congratulations!”

Prouty will have one other distinction when he takes his NLRB seat. He replaces William Emanuel, Trump’s most right-wing and most controversial NLRB pick. Emanuel hailed from a Los Angeles law firm with a union-busting reputation, and cost the Trumpites one NLRB win when the agency’s Inspector General invalidated his vote for a right-wing-pushed NLRB federal rule on conflict-of-interest grounds—leaving the rule to fail on a 2-2 tie.


CONTRIBUTOR

Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.

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