“This is how hope turns into despair,” begins a blog post on the website of the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union. The post is about the union’s stalled attempt to organize Michigan-area Panera Bread stores. Although the union won a workplace election last year, they have yet to secure a contract with the franchise’s owners.

Their problem is that the federal National Labor Relations Board is in a state of legal limbo and therefore unable to sort out cases like this. A pair of Appeals Court rulings have said Obama’s recess appointments to the board were unconstitutional. Without the appointments,the board lacks a valid quorum.

The BCTGM blog notes:

Employers are using the decision to challenge the NLRB’s rulings, like that of the Panera workers, and the D.C. Circuit is putting these cases on hold, leaving workers without remedies when they are illegally fired for union activity or when their employer refuses to bargain with their representative.

One of the original Panera bakers, Kyle Schilling, has been fired by the company for his union activity, with little hope of retribution because of the radical decision by the D.C. court.

For more on the NLRB’s legal limbo and who’s to blame, read my column from last month on the subject.