Cleveland labor lawyer Kirsanow named to board

President Bush has moved to bring the National Labor Relations Board closer to full strength, with the Jan. 4 recess appointment of Cleveland labor lawyer Peter N. Kirsanow to a board seat. Kirsanow, whose appointment extends into 2007, fills one of two open positions on the five-person board. The action was one of three recess appointments announced for federal labor agencies.

In November, Bush had nominated Kirsanow to a board seat, for a term expiring in August 2008, but the Senate hasn't yet acted on the nomination. A Senate source says there was "significant opposition" from Democrats on at least two of the labor agency nominations, adding that "apparently the White House did not get a sense that a deal could be reached" and decided to use recess appointments.

Kirsanow, a partner in the Cleveland law firm Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP, was appointed to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in 2001. He also had been senior labor counsel for Leaseway Transportation Corp. and labor counsel for the city of Cleveland.

Besides Kirsanow, the other NLRB members are Chairman Robert J. Battista and Wilma B. Liebman--both of whom were confirmed to multi-year terms--and Peter C. Schaumber, who is serving under a recess appointment through 2006.

Wade Newton, a spokesman for Associated Builders & Contractors, says, "Obviously we're happy that a fuller board will help the NLRB resolve the backlog of cases," but he said ABC doesn't have a position on Kirsanow.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, the top Democrat on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, issued a statement saying he was concerned about Bush's use of a recess appointment for Kirsanow to the NLRB position. He added, "I had made it clear that I was willing to work with the White House and Republicans to confirm a comprehensive package to fill all of the three existing vacancies on the board."

In other recess appointments, Bush named Ronald E. Meisburg as NLRB general counsel. Meisburg had served as an NLRB member in 2003 and 2004 under earlier recess appointments. In June, Bush had nominated Meisburg to serve a four-year term as general counsel, but there has been no action in the Senate.

Meisburg succeeds Arthur F. Rosenfeld, who has been acting NLRB general counsel since July. Rosenfeld received a recess appointment to be director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

(Photo courtesy of Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP)