On May 26, 2021, President Joe Biden nominated attorney Gwynne Wilcox to fill an open seat on the National Labor Relations Board. Wilcox is currently a partner with Levy Ratner, a New York City law firm. If confirmed, Wilcox would become the second Democrat on the five-member Board.
Current NLRB Composition
President Biden inherited an NLRB with four sitting members and one vacancy. Upon taking office, he immediately appointed Board Member Lauren McFerran, a Democrat, to Chair the Board. Despite losing the chair position, three Republicans retain the voting majority on the Board: former-Chair John Ring, Marvin Kaplan, and Bill Emanuel.
Wilcox would fill the seat formerly held by Mark Pearce. It is has been vacant since August 2018.
Impact of Gwynne Wilcox Joining the NLRB
Even if the Senate confirms Wilcox in the foreseeable future, her presence will not overcome the Republican majority. As with Republican Board members historically, the current majority tends to issue less restrictive rulings for employers. Conversely, Democratic members are increasingly pro-union and pro-employee in their decisions.
In the short term, Wilcox would join Chair McFerran in the Democratic minority. However, their influence would be expected to increase significantly later this year. Member Emanuel’s term ends in August 2021. President Biden will assuredly nominate a pro-labor Democrat to replace him.
Once the next two NLRB nominees are approved, the Democrats will retain the ability to dictate more labor-friendly interpretations of the National Labor Relations Act. Employers should expect stricter regulation and more aggressive prosecution of workplace practices and policies, as last seen under the Obama Administration. And unions will find a more receptive agency in connection with organizing efforts. The pendulum has already started to shift under Biden’s acting NLRB General Counsel. Democrats in Washington are also hoping to make monumental legislative changes in this area through the PRO Act.
More About Gwynne Wilcox
Gwynne Wilcox received her Bachelor’s Degree from Syracuse University and her law degree from Rutgers University School of Law. She represents unions and employees in labor matters. A fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, Wilcox also serves as Associate General Counsel of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. She has prior experience with the NLRB as a field attorney for the agency in New York City.