Senate Votes for Fully-Staffed NLRB

The U.S. Senate has confirmed all five National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) nominees, giving the country’s top governing body for labor disputes a full slate of nominees for the first time in a decade.

President Obama’s two replacement nominees – Kent Hirozawa, the former top counsel to NLRB Chairman Mark Pearce, and past AFL-CIO Associate General Counsel Nancy Jean Schiffer – were both approved in 54-44 votes. The Senate voted 59-38 to extend Pearce’s term as chairman, while confirming by voice vote two Republican nominees: Harry I. Johnson III and Philip A. Miscimarra.

The confirmations mean the Board’s decisions won’t face the legal challenges it has dealt with since the conservative D.C. Circuit Court ruled Obama’s January 2012 recess-appointed nominees invalid.

“But with this victory comes another battle – House Republicans are now targeting critical funding for the NLRB, the Labor Department and other agencies,” said IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger. “Even with a full five-member board, the NLRB would be unable to function as it should if the GOP gets their way.”

An appropriations bill put forth by House Republicans that was scheduled for a July 25 markup would have cut funding for the agencies by $32 billion, a 22 percent decrease. Republicans suddenly pulled the measure, and now the Labor-Health and Human Services appropriations markup will have to wait until after the five-week August recess.

“Shame on them for putting forward this façade of a budget,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT). “Shame on them for gutting funding for education, health and labor programs to such a low level that they cannot even defend their own proposals.”

The Senate Appropriations Committee, meanwhile, has already approved funding at higher levels than the House allocation of $122 billion for all agencies covered by the bill.