Biden to nominate union lawyer to key seat on U.S. labor board

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WASHINGTON, June 22 (Reuters) - President Joe Biden announced on Tuesday that he intends to nominate a senior union lawyer to the U.S. National Labor Relations Board as Democrats move to retake control.

Biden plans to tap David Prouty, general counsel of Service Employee International Union (SEIU) Local 32BJ, the largest labor union for property service workers in the country with over 175,000 members, to fill the seat currently held by Republican William Emanuel, the White House said. Emanuel's term is set to expire Aug. 27.

Biden last month nominated veteran union lawyer Gwynne Wilcox for a vacant seat on the NLRB. If both are confirmed, Democrats would take control of the five-member labor board.

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Prouty declined to comment. Reuters first reported Prouty's nomination.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on Tuesday praised Biden in a tweet for "for acting quickly to return a pro-worker majority to the @NLRB."

Once Democrats have a majority on the board, they are expected to move quickly to undo a slew of Trump-era precedents seen as favoring businesses over unions.

Biden backs legal changes to make it easier for workers to organize and join unions. On Monday, Vice President Kamala Harris said the Biden administration "will probably be the most pro-union of any we've seen before."

Those include major Trump-era rulings that made it easier for employers to defend workplace rules; barring union organizers and off-duty employees from engaging in organizing activities on employers’ property; giving businesses more power to make unilateral changes to working conditions and prohibiting workers from using company email for union organizing.

The board is also expected to scrap and replace Trump-era rules involving "joint employment," where businesses are considered the employers of contract or franchise workers, and the procedures for holding union elections and litigating post-election challenges.

Under then-President Barack Obama, the board adopted rules that sped up the election process, which is typically seen as favoring unions; in 2019, the board reversed course and slowed the process down again. A federal judge threw out some of the 2019 rules.

Prouty served as a senior lawyer for the Major League Baseball Players Association from 2008 through 2017 and previously was general counsel of UNITE HERE, the union formed by the 2004 merger of two major unions.

In January, Biden fired the NLRB's general counsel and removed the deputy general counsel from her position.

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Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Jonathan Oatis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Dan Wiessner (@danwiessner) reports on labor and employment and immigration law, including litigation and policy making. He can be reached at