Union Lawyer Gwynne Wilcox to Be Nominated to NLRB Vacancy
The White House announced today that President Biden will nominate attorney Gwynne Wilcox to the fifth and last vacant seat on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Ms. Wilcox is a senior partner at labor & employment firm Levy Ratner and has represented labor unions throughout her career. She also serves as associate general counsel for 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, the largest healthcare union in the United States. If confirmed by the Senate, Ms. Wilcox will be the first Black woman to serve on the Board.
The NLRB is the federal agency that administers and enforces the National Labor Relations Act, which governs collective bargaining in the private sector. The NLRB has a five-member board, currently led by Chairwoman Lauren McFerran, a Democrat. President Biden named McFerran chair when he took office in January.
Earlier this year, Chairwoman McFerran indicated that she would seek to put power back into the hands of employees to unionize and advocate for their rights, pushing back against NLRB decisions made during the Trump administration by a Republican-led NLRB and former NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb. President Biden fired Robb within hours of his inauguration after Robb refused to resign his post. Peter Sung Ohr, Regional Director for NLRB Region 13 in Chicago, is currently serving as Acting General Counsel while NLRB Deputy General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo awaits Senate confirmation.
Ms. Wilcox’s nomination to the five-member Board will add another Democratic seat to the currently seated 3-1 Republican board, filling out the Board at a 3-2 Republican majority. In August 2021, Republican member William Emanuel’s Board term will expire, which will provide President Biden an opportunity to nominate another Democrat and effectively flip the majority.