IAM Urges Congress to Confirm NLRB Appointees

The IAM is encouraging members of Congress to sign a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for the swift consideration of President Obama’s appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The letter, being circulated by Reps. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) and Joe Courtney (D-CT), criticizes McConnell (R-KY) and the GOP for their “ideological obstruction” to the NLRB, which is “denying hardworking Americans the crucial worker protections that the NLRB provides.”

On Wednesday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension (HELP) Committee approved the White House’s five nominees to the Board. The nominees are expected to encounter stiff opposition from Senate Republicans if and when a full floor vote is held.

The nation’s top governing body for labor disputes has been virtually powerless to enforce its decisions since the D.C. Circuit Court ruled President Obama’s January 2012 recess appointments unconstitutional. If no action is taken, the Board will be left without a quorum, and its ability to act, when Chairman Mark Pearce’s term ends in August.

McConnell recently said that the Senate will not vote on Obama’s package of nominees unless current Board members Sharon Block and Richard Griffin are replaced. The letter from the Democratic congress members calls this “nothing more than a blatant and cynical attempt to shut down the NLRB’s lawful ability to investigate and remedy unfair labor practices.”

Nominating packages of bipartisan nominees – this group includes three Democrats and two Republicans – to the NLRB is not a new phenomenon; in fact, no Board member has been confirmed since 1990 except as part of a package. Many of these were recess appointments, like the ones that were ruled unconstitutional by the conservative three-judge D.C. court early last year.

Nonetheless, the GOP seems determined to render the Board unable to function. Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) said that for the NLRB “inoperable is progress.” Last month, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced a bill that would shut the Board down until it has three Senate-appointed members. Republicans in the House have already passed a similar bill.

Wilma Liebman, the immediate past chairwoman of the Board, urged the Senate to confirm the nominees and “lift the cloud that otherwise hangs over this agency and its decisions.”

“Surely, the unions, employers and individual employees who rely on the NLRB disputes over unfair labor practices and union representation deserve better than this crisis of governance,” wrote Liebman in an op-ed in Politico. “They deserve – indeed need – a government that works, not dysfunction and partisan warfare. So does the American public. Promptly confirming these five nominees would be a good start to disarmament.”

Click here to view the letter urging McConnell to promptly consider the NLRB appointments.