In a move that should come as a surprise to no one, yesterday President Biden nominated a union-side attorney to fill a long-vacant seat on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Nominee Gwynne Wilcox is currently a partner at Levy Ratner PC, a New York-based union-side law firm. She also serves as associate general counsel for the largest local of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Before entering private practice, Wilcox worked as a field attorney in the NLRB’s Manhattan office.
If Wilcox is confirmed by the Senate as expected, she would be the first Black woman to be a member of the NLRB in the agency’s 86-year history. Wilcox would fill the seat that has been vacant since former Chair Mark Peace’s term expired in 2018. She would become the second Democrat on the Board, joining current Chair Lauren McFerran.
The NLRB’s current Republican majority will come to an end very soon, when Member Bill Emmanuel’s term expires in August 2021. Following Emmanuel’s departure and President Biden’s expected nomination of another Democrat to establish a 3-2 majority, employers should be prepared for the NLRB to reverse a number of employer-friendly decisions that were issued under the Trump Board.
Once confirmed, Wilcox will play an important role in accelerating the NLRB’s union-friendly shift. That shift may target issues such as scrutiny of personnel policies, employer flexibility to manage under labor agreements, and union election rules changes, just to name a few. During her time in private practice, Wilcox has handled a number of high profile matters on behalf of unions, including litigation as part of the Fight for $15 campaign.