The National Labor Relations Board has reversed a ruling it made last December overturning an Obama-era decision on joint employer status.
The reversal came after labor union allies in Congress asked NLRB Inspector General David Berry to report on whether board member William Emanuel had violated conflict of interest standards when he voted on the issue.
IG Berry (who was appointed during the Obama era), reported that Emanuel had a conflict because someone at his 1,000-lawyer law firm had represented one of the employers involved in the 2015 case in which the NLRB set the joint employer standard. His firm had no connection to any of the employers in the more recent case where he voted to change the policy.
If considered a joint employer, the NLRB can find that temp employees and employees of franchisees must be included in a collective bargaining unit. One joint employer case brought by unions sought to unionize MacDonald’s franchises on this basis.
Critics of Emanuel’s recusal point out that Obama-era member Craig Becker, former associate general counsel of the Service Employees International Union, stubbornly spurned calls to recuse himself from cases involving his former employer.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) issued stern warnings to NLRB nominee John Ring at his March 1 confirmation hearing.
Following the recusal, NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb asked a federal court to reinstate a lawsuit that had challenged the 2015 policy.
The term of Democrat board member Mark Gaston Pearce expires on Aug. 27. With Ring, a Republican majority of 2-1 then will exist even with Emanuel’s recusal. That would allow the new board to cast another vote overturning the joint employer policy.