by Anne Marie Lofaso, Arthur B. Hodges Professor of Law, West Virginia University College of Law
*This is part of ACSblog's Symposium on Regulatory Rollback
Labor law is no stranger to polarization. The National Labor Relations Board – that New Deal federal agency established by Congress to enforce the National Labor Relations Act (the principal federal law to regulate relations between unions and private-sector employers) – has long been a prime battleground for political polarization. Starting with the Eisenhower Administration’s confirmation of Guy Otto Farmer – lawyer for the Bituminous Coal Operators’ Association (a multiemployer bargaining association formed in 1950 to represent coal operators in negotiations with the United Mine Workers) – to serve as Chairman in the mid-1950s, the Board has oscillated among (mostly) reasonable policy choices within the interstices and ambiguities of the NLRA’s statutory language.
Last month, President Trump nominated Marvin Kaplan, a Kansan with extensive government (but no labor-litigation) experience, and William J. Emanuel, a Partner in the Los Angeles office of Littler Mendelson, to fill two vacancies on the National Labor Relations Board. On July 13, 2017, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee held confirmation hearings. Their confirmation would return a pro-business, Republican-backed majority to the Board for the first time since the relatively halcyon days of George W. Bush’s presidency.