Guest Column

Biden’s NLRB Nominee Has Dismal Record for Workers and Employers Both 

The current appointment of Gwynne Wilcox to the board raises concerns about her ability to fulfill this role effectively

By Mark Noland

The wealth of natural resources has always provided opportunity in our Treasure State. For generations energy development, mining, logging, and other resource industries have provided working Montanans with good paying, reliable employment.

Montana is the nation’s only producer of palladium and platinum. We lead in talc production. And we are a major producer of copper, garnets, and silver, to name just a few resources harvested right here. Meanwhile, the energy industry employs over 15,000 Montana workers. Many of these men and women are proud union members. 

It has recently occurred to me that many politicians and bureaucrats who claim allegiance to labor often fail to accurately represent the points of view and interests of workers. Many allegedly pro-union politicians are also actively working to eliminate these jobs, which put food on our family’s tables and shoes on our children’s feet, in favor of so-called “green jobs” that tend not to be unionized.  

President Joe Biden’s renomination of National Labor Relations Board member Gwynne Wilcox provides another example of this trend. 

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring fair labor practices and acting as an impartial arbiter for employers and workers. However, the current appointment of Gwynne Wilcox to the board raises concerns about her ability to fulfill this role effectively. Wilcox’s partisan and ideological background undermines the integrity of the NLRB and jeopardizes the interests of both employers and workers. She might be “pro-union,” but is she “pro-union worker?” I don’t think so. 

For instance, Wilcox’s support for broadly expanding the joint employer standard, which would hold franchisors liable for franchisees’ employees, will cost tens of thousands of jobs as franchisors, especially in the food services industry, accelerate plans to automate, or close down altogether. Clearly, that’s not in the interest of workers. 

Another example makes plain the consequences of Wilcox’s re-appointment, which are already being felt. In a recent decision, the Atlanta Opera case, Wilcox and her fellow Democratic colleagues on the board expanded the definition of employees to include independent contractors, impacting those hairstylists and makeup artists. This decision could have far-reaching and negative consequences on the “gig economy,” which has grown popular with workers who value flexibility and entrepreneurial opportunity. It displays a sudden and sharp departure from fair labor practices and could lead to a resurgence of policies adopted during the Obama administration. 

Other issues and controversies before the NLRB should cause employers and workers alike to oppose the Wilcox reappointment. Employers could lose their free speech rights by being forced into so-called neutrality agreements. Wilcox supports a policy that would deprive workers of all perspectives when deciding whether or not to form a union. 

Given the significant implications of Wilcox’s appointment, it is crucial for concerned stakeholders to voice their opposition. Employers and workers alike should urge our Sen. Jon Tester to reject Gwynne Wilcox as a nominee to the National Labor Relations Board. Maintaining the impartiality and integrity of the NLRB is essential to protect the rights and interests of all parties involved.

Gwynne Wilcox does not represent the interests of workers. Her partisan and ideological affiliations cast doubts on her ability to fulfill her role on the NLRB role fairly. The Senate must carefully consider the ramifications of Wilcox’s appointment and ensure that the NLRB remains a neutral referee in labor disputes, safeguarding the interests of both employers and workers.

Mark Noland is a Republican state senator from Bigfork. He serves as the Vice Chairman of the Senate Business, Labor, & Economic Committee.   

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