February 26, 2018

Warren, Murray Call on NLRB Chairman to Reconsider Hy-Brand Decision as Watchdog Finds "Serious and Flagrant Problems"

Senators Press Member Emanuel on his Involvement in Hy-Brand Case despite Conflict of Interest

Text of letter to Chairman Kaplan (PDF)

Text of letter to Member Emanuel (PDF)

Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) today sent letters to National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Chairman Marvin Kaplan and Member William Emanuel in the wake of an investigation by the NLRB inspector general (IG) finding that Member Emanuel's participation in the December 2017 Hy-Brand case "exposes a serious and flagrant problem and/or deficiency" with the Board' decision-making process.

The Board's Hy-Brand decision reversed Browning-Ferris Industries (BFI) - an important 2015 decision ensuring workers could bargain with employers that have indirect control over their wages and working conditions. Industry groups and other special interests strongly opposed the BFI ruling, and the Board moved to overturn it as soon as it obtained a Republican majority. But the Board's newest member, William Emanuel, was barred from joining efforts to reverse the BFI decision itself due to conflicts of interest with his former law firm. The senators raised concerns about this in letters to Mr. Emanuel on December 21, 2017 and February 6, 2018.

The IG found that "Hy-Brand was merely the vehicle to continue the deliberations of Browning-Ferris and that as a result, Mr. Emanuel should have recused himself rather than voting on the case.

"As Chairman, it is your responsibility to take any all actions necessary to restore the public's confidence in the integrity of the Board's decision-making process," wrote the senators in their letter to Chairman Kaplan. "The first and most obvious step you should take is reconsidering the tainted Hy-Brand decision and revisit the matter with Mr. Emanuel recused, as it is now clear he should have been in the first place."

In a second letter to Member William Emanuel, the senators inquired about his conflicts of interest in the Hy-Brand.

"Though the IG's report does not contain a determination that you engaged in misconduct (that will be the subject of a separate, forthcoming report from the IG), it does make clear that your actions created a serious flaw in the Hy-Brand decision-making process, tainted the outcome of that process, and undermined the ability of the public to trust in the integrity of the Board's decision-making processes," wrote the senators in their letter to Member Emanuel. The senators called on Member Emanuel to answer detailed questions on why and how he participated in the Hy-Brand case by March 12, 2018.