November 07, 2017

Warren Leads Senate Colleagues in Calling on NLRB Member to Disclose All Potential Conflicts of Interest

William Emanuel and Former Employer Represented Dozens of Companies Opposed to Collective Bargaining

Text of the letter (PDF)

Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) led 11 of her colleagues in calling on William Emanuel, recently confirmed as a member of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), to publicly disclose all potential conflicts of interest that may come before the Board as a result of his previous work representing  dozens of large employers involved in cases before the Board or that could come before the Board in the future.

"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," wrote the senators in a letter to Mr. Emanuel. "We are concerned about your long history of representing employers wishing to make it harder for workers to bargain collectively."

During his confirmation hearing, Mr. Emanuel stated, "As I understand the recusal rule, I have to recuse myself from all cases involving my law firm." But in answering subsequent questions for the record about which parties would require his recusal, Mr. Emanuel did not publicly disclose all potential conflicts beyond the narrow category of clients that compensated him more than $5,000 for the current and past two calendar years.

Before being named to the Board, Mr. Emanuel was employed by the law firm Littler Mendelson and represented many major employers, such as Rite Aid, Nissan North America, and Uber Technologies, which together have dozens of pending cases before the NLRB.

The senators requested that Mr. Emanuel list all 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 further asked Mr. 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,"wrote the senators. "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."

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.) also signed the letter.