William Gould, chairman of the National Labor Relations Board during President Bill Clinton's administration, slammed President Trump's pick of former House Republican staffer Marvin Kaplan to fill an open seat on the labor law enforcement agency, calling him "unqualified and hostile to the law that he would interpret and administer."
Kaplan, he said, would "undercut the integrity" of the board.
"President Trump, like his predecessors, can select a board that reflects his administration's philosophy. But Marvin Kaplan is the wrong person to fill this role. In contrast to the second nominee, Kaplan has no qualifications as a labor lawyer, and his appointment would bring the political agenda of a Congress that hates the NLRB," Gould said in an op-ed published Saturday in the San Francisco Chronicle. Gould served as the labor board's chairman from 1994-1998 and is a professor at Stanford Law School.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Commmittee is scheduled to vote Wednesday on Kaplan's nomination as well as that of William Emanuel, a private-sector labor lawyer and Trump's pick to fill a second open seat on the five-member board. Should both Kaplan and Emanuel be confirmed by the Senate, the NLRB would have its first Republican majority since President George W. Bush's administration.
Kaplan is chief counsel for the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, an independent agency that administers the Occupational Safety and Health Administration act, a position he has held for nearly a year. Prior to that, he spent six years as counsel for the House Education and the Workforce Committee. Republicans on the committee have complained repeatedly that the board tilted heavily pro-union under former President Barack Obama and have pushed hard to roll back the various regulatory changes it instituted.
Gould argues that Kaplan's nomination creates a fox-guarding-the-henhouse situation. "His deep involvement in initiatives designed to impair the Obama NLRB have involved him directly in an unprecedented attempt to control the board through politics," he said.
Republicans have argued that it was the Obama-era board that was guided by politics in an effort to help the president's union allies and that Kaplan would help to restore the balance. "After years of playing the role of advocate, the board should be restored to the role of neutral umpire. Board partisanship didn't start under President Obama, but it became worse under him," said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., chairman of the Senate HELP committee, during a hearing last week on the nominations.