After passing out of committee earlier this summer, two nominees to the National Labor Relations Board – one Republican, one Democrat – were recently confirmed by the full Senate.
Even though both nominees have Board experience, the confirmation votes reflected the ongoing partisan contention that has in recent years surrounded the labor agency, with Republican nominee Marvin Kaplan confirmed by a vote of 52-46 without a single Democrat voting in support, while just seven Republicans crossed over to confirm Lauren McFerran, who was confirmed 53-42. Kaplan is currently serving on the Board, while McFerran was previously confirmed in 2014 and served until last December, when her five-year term expired.
Traditionally, three board seats are held by members of the president’s political party while two are set aside for the opposition party. Thus, last week’s confirmations leave the Republicans with a 3-1 majority at the Board, with one Democratic vacancy remaining to be filled. The Board had been operating with just three members, all Republican, since McFerran’s term expired last year. Because members serve five-year terms, and the other two Republican members’ terms will not expire until August of 2021 and December of 2022, the Republicans will retain a majority on the Board for at least a couple more years.
Perhaps equally important, the confirmations ensure that the agency will continue to have a quorum of three members, which means it may continue to function and issue decisions and rules. For example, the Board recently stated that it would implement changes unaffected by the recent federal district court decision to partially block changes to the agency’s election rules, while appealing the ruling directly impacting a portion of those rules. Given the increasingly rancorous nature of the back and forth of the Board, many employers will surely welcome a continuation of the current period of relative balance and stability.