The White House had obviously kept Wilma Liebman, chairman of the National Labor Relations Board, in the loop on President Obama’s intention to make recess appointments to the NLRB. At 4:08 p.m. the board’s press shop Tweeted its news release, “White House announces recess appointments of two attorneys to fill Board vacancies.” You would hope an independent, quasi-judicial agency would keep a little distance from the political moves of the White House, but welcoming new members is harmless enough, probably.
The labor group, American Rights at Work, was naturally delighted with the appointment of two labor lawyers to the NLRB, Tweeting, “Obama has appointed Craig Becker and Mark Pearce to the NLRB. We can’t wait for them to get to work for working people!” You would hope an independent, quasi-judicial agency would get to work interpreting the law.
So now three Democrats and one Republican will comprise the Board. The term of the Republican, Peter Schaumber, ends on August 27, 2010. The possibility, however theoretical, of an NLRB made up of three members of only one party should give pause. The term of the general counsel, Ronald Meisburg, a Bush appointee, also expires in August. Unlike most federal branch agencies, the NLRB’s general counsel must be confirmed by the Senate, so more maneuvering is possible. Brian Hayes, the pending Republican nominee whom President Obama did not appoint, is likely to buffeted by the political winds.
The Hill (blog), “Labor group praises Obama for appointing Becker, Pearce”
UPDATE (6:45 p.m.): Bloomberg reports, “Obama Bypasses Senate, Makes Appointments to NLRB, Treasury, quoting the NAM’s Keith Smith:
“You will see a radical overhaul of the labor law system,” said Keith Smith, director of employment and labor policy at the Washington-based industry group. “You could see significant limits on employers’ ability to communicate.