GOP Senators Urge Obama Not to Make Recess Appointments to Labor Board

December 20, 2011 - 8:17 PM

Sharon Block

Sharon Block has been nominated as a member of the National Labor Relations Board. (Photo: Department of Labor)

(CNSNews.com) – Republican Senators have sent two letters – one signed by the entire Senate GOP conference – urging President Obama not to use recess appointments to fill vacancies once again on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

The first letter, coordinated by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), urges the president not to bypass the Senate’s constitutional function and use recess appointments to put two controversial picks onto the NLRB.

“We are writing to urge you not to undermine the Senate’s advice and consent role by attempting to place your recently announced nominees to National Labor Relations Board,” they wrote in the December 19 letter.

“Appointments to the NLRB have traditionally been made through prior agreement of both parties to ensure that any group of nominees placed on the board represents an appropriate political and philosophical balance.”

The Senate GOP opposes the nominations of Sharon Block, a longtime congressional staffer and labor attorney for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), and Richard Griffin, an attorney for the International Union of Operating Engineers.

The senators oppose a board decision to block Boeing’s attempt to open a non-union plant in South Carolina and to change union elections rules to favor organized labor.

Were Block and Griffin to be appointed, the NLRB would once again have enough members to constitute a quorum, giving it the ability to pass the union elections changes and take action against Boeing.

After facing similar GOP opposition in March of last year to the nomination of union attorney Craig Becker to the board, Obama appointed him during a congressional recess.

Lafe Solomon

Lafe Solomon, the acting general counsel for the National Labor Relations Board, testifies before a House committee on June 17, 2011. (AP Photo)

A second letter, signed by 11 GOP senators, urges Obama to withdraw the nomination of the NLRB’s acting General Counsel, Lafe Solomon.

Coordinated by Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), the letter states that, after the NLRB withdrew its opposition to the South Carolina Boeing plant, Solomon’s threats to pursue legal action in similar cases made him an unfit nominee.

“In light of Mr. Solomon’s recent actions and continued threats, your withdrawal of Mr. Solomon’s nomination as General Counsel to the NLRB would send a powerful signal that you will not allow intimidation and inappropriate interference by one of your nominees for a powerful post,” the senators wrote on December 19.

“Mr. Solomon threatened, ‘if we were ever faced with a similar pattern, we might well issue a complaint.’ This statement is a direct assault on business expansion in right-to-work states,” the senators said.

“American employers should have the freedom to make private business decisions without the threat of a government-appointed official filing disparaging and costly litigation.”

Obama named Solomon, a longtime NLRB attorney, as acting General Counsel in June 2010. He led the fight against Boeing’s plan to build a plant in right-to-work South Carolina.

Republicans oppose his nomination over his role in the Boeing issue, saying he overstepped the bounds in threatening the company with legal action.

“Clearly having learned nothing from the initial pursuit against Boeing, Mr. Solomon’s threat to repeat such a misguided NLRB complaint demonstrates a complete disregard for the law and common sense; thus, this request to withdraw Mr. Solomon’s nomination,” the letter stated.