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Senate NLRB Deal Backfires on GOP…Again

Just over a week ago, Democrats suckered Republicans into a deal to avert what Senator Harry Reid referred to as the “nuclear option” that would have weakened the Senate filibuster rules. To solidify this agreement, President Obama withdrew his National Labor Relations Board nominees Richard Griffin and Sharon Block, whose recess appointments were ruled unconstitutional in Noel Canning case and two other federal courts. With this, Republicans agreed to confirm essentially anybody else that President Obama put forward to fill the NLRB and numerous other political appointments. On Tuesday, July 30, the Senate did just that in voting to confirm all of President Obama’s nominations to the NLRB consisting of Nancy Schiffer, Kent Hirozawa, Philip Miscimarra, Harry Johnson III, and Mark Pearce. However, the deal fails to transform the Board into a neutral arbiter of labor disputes. For starters, Schiffer and Hirozawa were handpicked by the AFL-CIO and are no less bias in favor of unions than Block or Griffin, which Republicans viewed as overtly partisan toward Big Labor. Therefore, while confirming the NLRB nominees restored the agency's quorum and ability to legitimately make decisions it will continue to act as Big Labor’s pet agency. Yet, Republicans’ misfortune from the agreement did not stop there. One of the displaced nominations to the Board, union lawyer Richard Griffin, is now President Obama’s nomination to the general counsel of the NLRB. As the Wall Street Journal reports: “The role of general counsel is a powerful one at the agency, which oversees union elections and referees private-sector management-labor disputes. While the five-member board rules on cases, the general counsel decides when to investigate and prosecute companies charged with unfair labor practices.” The power of the position was abused to its fullest potential under the previous regime—read here and here for more on Former NLRB General Counsel Lafe Solomon’s union regime. In addition, there is little doubt Griffin will continue this trend because he is notorious for overreaching his power. Most notably the former union lawyer is under a corruption investigation and has ties to the mob from his time with the International Union of Operating Engineers. In the end, American workers and the US economy can ill-afford another NLRB general counsel, like Solomon, that will give preferential treatment to Big Labor at the expense of job creation and the rule of law. But now, unfortunately, workers and employers fate rest in the hands of the GOP.