November 28, 2017

Following Inquiry from Warren, Colleagues, NLRB Member Emanuel Discloses Additional Former Clients

William Emanuel Lists 162 Former Clients that Would Require His Recusal, Potentially Leaving Many Cases in Deadlock

Text of the letter available here (PDF)

Washington, DC - Earlier this month, United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and eleven of her Senate colleagues called on William Emanuel, a recently confirmed member of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), to publicly disclose all potential conflicts of interest that might arise from any of Mr. Emanuel's numerous former clients, or his former law firm's clients, coming before the Board. In a response to their inquiry, Mr. Emanuel committed last week to recusing himself from cases involving 162 former clients and cases involving parties represented by the major management-side law firm Littler Mendelson for two years following his appointment.

In a letter to Mr. Emanuel, the senators requested that he list all of his clients during the two years prior to his appointment and those currently represented by his former employer, Littler Mendelson, as well as cases before the NLRB that include those parties.  In response to this inquiry, Mr. Emanuel provided a list of 162 former clients and a list of 49 cases currently pending before the NLRB involving clients of Littler Mendelson.  Among the 162 companies listed are major employers, such as Amazon, Uber, FedEx, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan, Rite Aid, Sysco, and numerous companies that have recently been involved in collective bargaining disputes within the NLRB's jurisdiction.  As required by federal ethics regulations, Mr. Emanuel has pledged to recuse himself for two years in all NLRB cases in which these companies are a party or represent a party.

Following his confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Mr. Emanuel did not publicly disclose all potential conflicts beyond a narrow category of clients that compensated him more than $5,000 for the current and past two calendar years.  The list of 162 companies provided by Mr. Emanuel in response to the senators' inquiry is significantly broader than the list originally provided to the Committee and includes employers across many sectors of the American economy.

"Millions of working families across the country are relying on the National Labor Relations Board to protect their rights to join together and fight for better pay and working conditions, but Mr. Emanuel has spent his career doing the opposite by helping corporations make it harder for workers to join unions," Senator Warren said. "His clients from the past two years alone include major employers accused of violating workers' rights, many of which will likely come before the Board during his tenure. President Trump's decision to nominate Mr. Emanuel was a bad move not just for working families, but also for the NLRB's ability to function smoothly."

The NLRB, which is responsible for resolving labor disputes involving collective bargaining and unfair labor practices, is composed of three Republican members and two Democratic members.  The requirement that Mr. Emanuel, a Republican, recuse himself for two years from cases involving his former employers and clients could leave many cases before the NLRB that are decided along party lines in a 2-2 deadlock.

During his July confirmation hearing and a subsequent floor speech, Senator Warren emphasized Mr. Emanuel's many potential conflicts of interest and raised concerns about his long history of representing employers who have sought to make it harder for workers to bargain collectively.

Senator Warren's initial letter to Mr. Emanuel was also signed by Senators Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).