The nation’s largest labor coalition sent out the following “Dear Senator” letter out Tuesday afternoon. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee is set to vote on five nominees to the National Labor Relations Board on Wednesday morning:
On behalf of the AFL-CIO, I strongly urge you to support confirmation of the five nominees to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). It is urgent that the nominations be considered and approved quickly. At present, two of the five seats on the Board are vacant and the term of Chairman Mark Pearce will expire in August. Without action by the Senate, the Board will soon be left without the quorum of at least three members that is required in order for the Board to function.
The package of five nominees includes three current Board members – Chairman Pearce and Members Sharon Block and Richard Griffin – and two nominees who come from the ranks of attorneys who represent management in labor-management relations: Phil Miscimarra and Harry Johnson. While the labor movement may disagree with the two Republican nominees on many issues, all five nominees are experienced and qualified and deserve to be confirmed.
There is nothing unprecedented about the Senate being asked to confirm a package of five nominees. Since the mid 1980’s, the Senate has confirmed packages to the NLRB. Indeed, in the last 25 years, all but two of the 18 nominees confirmed to the Board have been confirmed as part of a package, and many of them had been serving as recess appointees when they were confirmed.
Several Republican Senators have indicated that they may oppose Members Griffin and Block because of the controversy surrounding their recess appointments and the fact that Griffin and Block have continued to serve following the D.C. Circuit’s decision in Noel Canning holding that their appointments were unconstitutional. Just four years ago the NLRB faced a similar situation, when Republican Chairman Peter Schaumber and NLRB member Wilma Liebman continued to issue decisions as a two-member NLRB following a DC Circuit decision saying the Board needed three members to act. There was no uproar then, and there should be no uproar now.
It is important to point out that the Noel Canning decision, which takes an exceedingly narrow view of presidential recess appointment authority, is at odds with the decisions of at least three different circuits. The NLRB has asked the Supreme Court to review the Noel Canningdecision, and legal observers expect the Supreme Court to take the case. Noel Canning is not the final word on the validity of Block and Griffin’s recess appointments, and it is wrong to oppose their nominations because of that decision. The Senate must act promptly to confirm the bi-partisan package of nominations to the NLRB. We urge you to vote yes on all five nominees to the Board.
William Samuel, Director
Government Affairs Department