After a row over filibusters, the “nuclear option” and other procedural puzzles, the U.S. Senate recently found political compromise and approved seven of President Barack Obama’s political appointees. But behind the parliamentary warfare was the fate of the National Labor Relations Board, an independent agency that polices workplace fair labor standards — and a key instrument in the Obama administration’s pro-union regulatory agenda.
Under Obama, the NLRB has become a partisan wing of labor groups, harassing employers even as courts have ruled invalid many of the agency’s edicts because the five-member board has not had the required quorum of three confirmed members. Obama has worked steadily to pack the labor board with union-friendly appointees, and he did an end run around the Senate in 2012 to install three new members — an action ruled illegal by a federal court of appeals. Continue reading
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals joined federal appeals courts in the District of Columbia and Philadelphia in ruling that the Senate wasn’t really in recess when Obama filled vacancies on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) during an extended holiday break in January 2012.
On Jan. 4, 2012, President Obama appointed Deputy Labor Secretary Sharon Block, union lawyer Richard Griffin and National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) counsel Terence Flynn to fill vacancies on the five-member NLRB, which referees labor-management disputes and oversees union elections. At that time, Obama claimed he was making “recess appointments.” However, since the Senate was not in recess, that claim was disingenuous and unconstitutional as it removed the normal checks and balances on presidential appointments. Continue reading