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Biden’s Commitment to Labor


As the Biden administration matures, it’s becoming increasingly clear which progressive issues he really cares about and which he doesn’t (immigration, changing the trajectory of foreign policy). One he definitely does care about is organized labor, which is a nice change from every Democratic president in my lifetime. These sorts of appointments don’t get a lot of publicity, but they really matter a lot.

David Prouty, general counsel for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Labor 32BJ, has been chosen to fill an upcoming vacancy on the five-member board. Prouty has held the general counsel position at SEIU, the nation’s largest labor union for property service workers with over 175,000 members, since 2018.

Before that, he was general counsel for the MLB Players Association and also worked for the labor union UNITE HERE, which is comprised of industrial and textile employees as well as ones from hotels and restaurants. 

Prouty would replace William Emanuel, a Trump nominee whose five-year term is set to expire at the end of August. 

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) applauded Prouty’s nomination to the board, touting his understanding of how the NLRB can benefit workers. 

“We are pleased that President Biden has nominated a person with such outstanding credentials to the National Labor Relations Board, and we look forward to seeing the NLRB restored to its statutory role of safeguarding employee rights and fairly adjudicating disputes. Prouty is the right person, at the right time, for this job,” AFSCME President Lee Saunders said in a statement.

This is great. Expect much better NLRB decisions in the next few years. But the bigger problem is the extreme polarization of the NLRB, which goes back to the Eisenhower years, that makes consistent labor policy impossible to create, a problem that affects basically all of our regulatory and legal agencies. Still, these days, you take what you can get.

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