Obama Makes Recess Appointments to Labor Board

by
Reuters
President Barack Obama used recess appointments on Wednesday to fill three vacant seats on the National Labor Relations Board, drawing sharp criticism from the chief business lobbying group and praise from labor unions critical to his re-election effort.

President Barack Obama used recess appointments on Wednesday to fill three vacant seats on the National Labor Relations Board, drawing sharp criticism from the chief business lobbying group and praise from labor unions critical to his re-election effort.

President Barack Obama used recess appointments on Wednesday to fill three vacant seats on the National Labor Relations Board, drawing sharp criticism from the chief business lobbying group and praise from labor unions critical to his re-election effort.

Obama used his presidential power to install Democrats Sharon Block and Richard Griffin and Republican Terence Flynn to the NLRB.

The move sidesteps congressional Republicans who had obstructed the nominations and left the board without enough members to fully conduct its business in 2012.

Also on Wednesday, Obama used a recess appointment to name Richard Cordray as the head of the country's new consumer financial watchdog. The appointments are part of a broader White House strategy to portray Obama as an activist president confronted with a do-nothing Congress that has stymied his economic agenda.

"The American people deserve to have qualified public servants fighting for them every day - whether it is to enforce new consumer protections or uphold the rights of working Americans," Obama said in a statement.

The NLRB has been a target of Republicans who view it as favoring the labor movement, a key part of Obama's support base as he campaigns for re-election in November.

It was involved in a politically charged case last year with Boeing Co that Republicans used to slam Democrat Obama. Last month the board ruled to shorten the time frame for union elections - a reform the labor movement welcomed.

"Today's steps will simply further poison the well with regard to labor-management issues pending in front of the board and on Capitol Hill," Bruce Josten, government affairs vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement.

The labor movement community quickly praised Obama's move.

"We commend the president for exercising his constitutional authority to ensure that crucially important agencies protecting workers and consumers are not shut down by Republican obstructionism," AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said.

Once the new members are sworn in for 18-month terms, the five-member board will be at full strength for the first time since a brief period in 2010. It will consist of three Democrats and two Republicans.

Obama acted one day after Democrat Craig Becker's term expired, bringing the panel under the required number of members necessary to fully carry out its duties.

The NLRB has almost 200 pending cases but none as controversial as the Boeing suit over its non-union plant in South Carolina or the election-rule change, which was vigorously protested by the lone Republican member, Brian Hayes, and Republicans in Congress.

Congressional Republicans continue to scrutinize the NRLB, claiming it has abandoned its independence to serve Obama's agenda for organized labor.

An administration official said the appointment of a Republican on Wednesday should lessen the partisan sting.