WASHINGTON—Today, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the National Employment Law Project, and 47 civil rights, labor, and community leaders sent a letter urging the heads of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) to postpone hearings scheduled for Thursday on three controversial nominees for key National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and Department of Labor (DOL) posts.
In their letter to Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), the groups expressed “profound concern with the HELP Committee’s apparent rush to hold hearings” on recently announced NLRB nominees William Emanuel and Marvin Kaplan, and DOL nominee Patrick Pizzella, about whom “there are significant questions.”
Pizzella previously worked closely with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff on policies allowing “Made in the USA” labels to be slapped on goods produced in the Northern Mariana Islands under slave-labor conditions. Emanuel and Kaplan both have long records of working to weaken worker protections under the National Labor Relations Act and may present substantial conflicts of interest.
The Senate will have been in session for only 10 days since Pizzella’s and Kaplan’s nominations, and for only four days prior to Emanuel’s nomination. As the letter states in part, “In carrying out its important role to advise and consent on presidential nominations, the Senate must conduct meaningful hearings where members have adequate time to examine the records of all nominees and be sufficiently informed about them.”
“These are crucial positions that can have a wide-ranging impact on labor issues across the nation,” said Seema Nanda, executive vice president and COO of The Leadership Conference, and the former chief of staff of the U. S. Department of Labor in the Obama administration. “At first glance, it appears that each of these nominees may bring a bias against workers’ rights to their respective positions. The Senate and the American public deserve to know if these candidates are truly committed to advancing the rights and protections for all workers.”
“Based on their records, there are serious questions about whether these men are suitable for the important positions to which they’ve been nominated—positions that are crucial to the effective enforcement of workers’ rights,” said Judy Conti, federal advocacy coordinator with the National Employment Law Project. “We need to make sure our senators have the time they need to meet with these nominees, explore their records in full, hold robust hearings, and properly and thoroughly vet these men before they are allowed to assume positions of power that will have major impacts on the lives of everyday working people.”
The letter is available here.
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its 200-plus member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.
The National Employment Law Project is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization that conducts research and advocates on issues affecting low-wage and unemployed workers. For more about NELP, visit www.nelp.org.