President Obama on Jan. 4 said he will recess appoint three individuals to serve on the National Labor Relations Board—two Democrats and one Republican. The appointments bring the nation’s top labor panel back to a full complement of five members.
The appointees are Sharon Block, a Democrat, currently the deputy assistant secretary for congressional affairs at the U.S. Labor Dept. and previously an aide to former Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) on the Senate’s labor committee; and Republican Terence Flynn, currently chief counsel to NLRB board member Brian Hayes, also a Republican. Flynn previously was chief counsel for former NLRB Board member Peter Schaumber.
Rounding out the appointments is Richard Griffin, general counsel for the International Union of Operating Engineers and on the board of directors for the AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating Committee.
While union supporters praised the move, Republicans decried the way in which the appointments were made. Several sources say that without the recess appointments, it is unlikely that the nominees would have been confirmed. Randy Johnson, senior vice president of Labor, Immigration, and Employee Benefits for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said that the “past actions by the Board have so poisoned the well” that it would be highly unlikely that the nominees would have received Senate approval.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who had vowed to block Senate confirmation of the nominees, said the recess appointments “may impress union bosses but will deliver yet another blow to job creation.” He added that he will “continue to do everything in my power to put the brakes on the NLRB as currently constructed.”
But union advocates are praising the recess appointments. Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, says, “We commend the president for exercising his constitutional authority to ensure that crucially important agencies protection workers…are not shut down by Republican obstructionism.”