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Lawmakers press NLRB Member William Emanuel on conflicts of interest

A dozen senators are pressing recently confirmed National Labor Relations Board Member William Emanuel to publicly disclose all potential conflicts of interest that may come before the Board as a result of his earlier work representing large employers before the Board, or that could come before the Board in the future. Led by Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), the Democratic and one Independent lawmakers pointed out that during his confirmation hearing, Emanuel stated, “As I understand the recusal rule, I have to recuse myself from all cases involving my law firm,” yet in answering questions for the record about which parties would require his recusal, he did not publicly disclose all potential conflicts beyond clients that compensated him more than $5,000 for the current and past two calendar years.

“One element of serving as an NLRB member in a manner faithful to the law and to the American public is ensuring that you are not faced with any conflicts of interest, such as conflicts with any parties that come before the Board with whom you previously had a relationship,” the senators wrote in a November 6 letter to Emanuel. “We are concerned about your long history of representing employers wishing to make it harder for workers to bargain collectively.”

Before his confirmation to the Board, Emanuel practiced law at Littler Mendelson, where he represented many major employers, such as Rite Aid, Nissan North America, and Uber Technologies, which together have dozens of pending cases before the NLRB, according to the senators.

The lawmakers are asking Emanuel to list all of his clients during the two years prior to his appointment and those currently represented by Littler Mendelson, as well as cases before the NLRB that include those parties. They also want Emanuel to confirm that he would recuse himself from all cases involving his former clients.

“This position carries enormous importance for workers and the strength of the American economy,” the letter states. “Millions of working Americans, whether or not they belong to unions, are now looking to you and your fellow board members to aggressively protect their right to join together to seek higher pay, better working conditions, and a brighter future for themselves and their families.”