In Highly Unusual Move, NLRB Chairman Urges Action on Nominees

Has any political watcher seen something like this before, a chairman of an executive branch agency getting involved in a political nomination battle like this? Highly unusual, especially before a highly partisan battle on the Senate floor, Monday’s cloture vote on the nomination of Craig Becker to the NLRB.

With the NLRB also before the Supreme Court in the appeal of New Process Steel v. NLRB, doesn’t this statement also undermine the NLRB’s case that two-member quorums represent an appropriate, legal delegation of authority? (For more background, see this Jackson-Lewis post, “U.S. Supreme Court to Decide Appeals Court Conflict Over NLRB Quorum.”)

A statement from Wilma Liebman, chairman of the National Labor Relations Board:

NLRB Chairman on Pending Nominations

WASHINGTON—In response to numerous press inquiries, National Labor Relations Board Chairman Wilma Liebman made the following statement regarding nominations to the Board of Craig Becker, Mark Pearce and Brian Hayes that have been pending before the Senate since July of 2009:

“I am disappointed that we still do not have a fully constituted Board despite the naming of three nominees last summer. The Board has been in limbo for a long time. For more than two years, the Board has had to operate with three vacancies, leaving only myself and Member Peter Schaumber to decide the hundreds of cases that come before us. We have done our best to carry out the Board’s important work, issuing more than 500 decisions in cases involving thousands of workers across the country. But our authority to do so has been challenged and now the Supreme Court will decide whether we can continue to function. At the same time, the Board has been unable to move forward on the most significant cases before it. I look forward to a time in the near future when the Board is back at full capacity resolving issues vital to American workers and their employers.”

The National Labor Relations Board is an independent federal agency vested with the power to safeguard employees’ rights to organize and to determine whether to have unions as their bargaining representative. The agency also acts to prevent and remedy unfair labor practices committed by private sector employers and unions.

Leibman is a Democratic appointee, but we’ve never before seen a Democrat or Republican member of an independent executive branch agency take such an overt, political role in a nomination.


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