Capping a daylong assault on congressional Republicans, President Obama appointed three members to the National Labor Relations Board as part of a series of recess appointments the GOP had tried to prevent.
Obama made the move while Congress is away for the holiday break, but meeting every few days in pro forma sessions to block the White House from precisely these type of recess appointments. The labor board appointments were tucked into Obama’s more public announcement of Richard Cordray as the new consumer protection bureau chief.
“The American people deserve to have qualified public servants fighting for them every day,” Obama said in a statement. “We can’t wait.”
The labor board appointments will ensure that the panel, which adjudicates workers’ right to form unions, will keep functioning. The five-person panel was down to just two members in the new year – not enough to fully function.
The appointments are sure to draw fire from Republicans who have sought to block what they characterize as the pro-union slant of the labor board in the Obama administration. Labor unions have been fighting for ways to make it easier for workers to organize.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who had vowed to block Obama’s nominees, called the labor board an “out-of-control rogue bureaucracy.”
“Hasn’t the NLRB already done enough damage?” Graham said. “Today’s action may impress the union bosses but will deliver yet another blow to job creation.”
The appointees include Sharon Block, a deputy assistant Labor secretary who once worked for former Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.); Richard Griffin, a board member of the AFL-CIO; and Terence Flynn, a counsel to the Republican member of the board.
“We commend the president for exercising his constitutional authority to ensure that crucially important agencies protecting workers' rights and consumers are not shut down by Republican obstructionism,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.