Guest Column

Biden’s NLRB Nominee Has Anti-Business Track Record

The recent renomination of Gwynne Wilcox to the board raises concerns about partisanship and conflicts of interest

By Jason Ellsworth

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is entrusted with the responsibility of upholding the rights of private sector employees, ensuring fair labor practices, and promoting harmonious employer-employee relations. However, President Joe Biden’s recent renomination of Gwynne Wilcox to the board raises concerns about partisanship and conflicts of interest that compromise the NLRB’s neutrality. It is imperative that Wilcox is not confirmed for another term.

Wilcox’s background as a pro-union labor attorney, representing multiple unions before the NLRB, poses significant conflicts of interest. As an associate general counsel of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and an advocate for the “Fight for $15” movement, she previously championed the notion of holding franchisors accountable as joint employers of franchisees’ employees. Nevertheless, she has failed to recuse herself from the NLRB’s ongoing joint employer standard rulemaking, despite numerous calls from members of Congress to step aside due to the obvious conflict of interest. Does anyone really think Wilcox can maintain objectively when adjudicating cases before the board?

Wilcox’s affiliations with radical organizations like the Worker’s Defense League and Brandworkers International further undermine her credibility as an impartial board member. These associations, with ties to socialist ideologies, call into question her commitment to fair and balanced decision-making. Former Sen. Richard Burr rightfully expressed concern over Wilcox’s involvement in a project that disparaged the American free enterprise system, which forms the foundation of our democracy. If Wilcox’s conflicts of interest don’t disqualify her, then her extremist ideas should. 

The consequences of Wilcox’s appointment to the NLRB are already becoming evident. In the recent Atlanta Opera decision, Wilcox and her Democrat colleagues on the board reclassified independent contractors, such as hairstylists and makeup artists, as employees. This ruling disregards the unique nature of independent contractor arrangements and threatens the livelihoods of those who choose this type of work. With Wilcox on the board, we can expect a surge of misguided policies, including limitations on employer free speech rights, a flawed joint employer standard that threatens the survival of franchise businesses, and the return of small bargaining units known as micro-unions.

To safeguard the principles of fairness and impartiality at the NLRB, it is crucial that the U.S. Senate voices opposition to Gwynne Wilcox’s nomination through its important constitutional responsibility to offer advice and consent. Workers deserve board members who can objectively analyze labor cases, free from personal bias and conflicts of interest. The NLRB’s mandate is to protect the rights and interests of workers, not necessarily employers or union bosses, and this can only be achieved through the appointment of individuals who prioritize fairness and balance.

We have a responsibility to voice our concerns to our Senators. By expressing our opposition to the nomination of Gwynne Wilcox, we can help ensure that the NLRB remains an independent and impartial body that effectively upholds the rights of workers while fostering a conducive environment for businesses to thrive.

In the spirit of fairness and neutrality, I encourage Sen. Jon Tester to oppose the Wilcox nomination to the National Labor Relations Board.

Jason Ellsworth, R-Hamilton, is the Republican president of the Montana State Senate.

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