Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Obama Names Two New NLRB Nominees

by Ilyse Schuman

President Obama has announced that he intends to nominate Sharon Block (D) and Richard Griffin (D) to fill two vacancies on the National Labor Relations Board. When Member Craig Becker’s recess appointment expires at the end of this year, the Board will be left with only two members, Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce (D) and Member Brian Hayes (R). As the Supreme Court decided in last year’s New Process Steel decision, the Board must operate with at least three members to exercise its full authority. In January of 2011, Obama nominated Terence Flynn (R) to fill one of the vacant slots on the five-member Board, but the Senate has not yet acted on his nomination. It is expected that the Senate will similarly take no action on the latest nominees. The possibility of the President seating Block and Griffin by recess appointment is also low, as the House will likely take steps to block his ability to do so.

According to information published by the White House, Block has worked as an attorney in both the private and public sectors. She currently serves as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Congressional Affairs at the U.S. Department of Labor. Her other positions have included Senior Labor and Employment Counsel for the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), where she worked for the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, and senior attorney to former NLRB Chairman Robert Battista.

Griffin is a long-term attorney for the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE). He is currently the union’s General Counsel, and has served on the board of directors for the AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating Committee for the past 17 years. Griffin also has worked as a counsel to NLRB Board Members.

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