From Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, a statement after the failed cloture vote on the nomination of SEIU and AFL-CIO associate counsel Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board:
It is reprehensible that a minority in the U.S. Senate has blocked an up-or-down vote on Craig Becker, nominated seven months ago by President Obama to serve on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Once again, a Republican-led filibuster has put political interests over the needs of America’s working families. For more than two years, the NLRB has had only two of its five members. Without a fully staffed NLRB, working families face a major disadvantage in winning justice in the workplace. [Our emphasis]
Trumka’s counting on short memories to claim the moral and political high ground, but it’s the usual bluster and bunk. History shows that the AFL-CIO’s leadership doesn’t care about process or vacancies, only about getting pro-union members onto the NLRB.
On January 25, 2008, President George W. Bush announced his intent to nominate three members to the National Labor Relations Board: Robert J. Battista, Gerald Morales, and Dennis P. Walsh. Battista, a Republican, had previously been confirmed by the Senate and served through Dec. 16, 2007. Walsh, a Democrat, had served on the NLRB through a recess appointment through Dec. 31, 2007. Morales, a Republican, would have been new to the board. (See NLRB service list.)
None of these three candidates were given a confirmation vote by the U.S. Senate, leaving just two members on the board. One of the most vociferous voices against filling those vacancies? The AFL-CIO. From then President John Sweeney, reviling two of the nominees in a Jan. 28, 2008, news release:
The Bush Administration’s bury-bad-news-on-a-Friday-afternoon nominations to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) are a blatant attempt to keep a Labor board with an unbalanced, anti-worker bias, and they would be poisonous to America’s working families.
Chairman Robert Battista has been Bush’s point man for his war on workers. President Bush’s renomination of Battista for another 5-year term is a clear effort to stack the deck in favor of Big Business over working people, as is his nomination of Gerald Morales, an attorney who has spent his professional career representing management and has no history defending workers’ rights.
So Sweeney and the AFL-CIO were perfectly happy with NLRB vacancies two years ago, it’s just the appointees they didn’t like (and maligned).
In 2008, the recess appointments of Bush’s three nominees were prevented by the Senate Majority’s decision to hold regular pro forma sessions, thereby not going into recess, in the process ensuring the continuation of the vacancies. The AFL-CIO did not complain about the vacancies then. And today? Trumka: “We support President Obama’s expressed willingness to make recess appointments of critical posts in the federal government if that’s what it takes to get around minority delay and obstruction.”
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