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Obama to Make Recess Appointments to Labor Relations Board

Obama to Make Recess Appointments to Labor Relations Board
President Barack Obama appointed Sharon Block, Terence Flynn and Richard Griffin to the National Labor Relations Board. Photo: Olivier Douliery/Bloomberg

President Barack Obama is appointing three of his nominees to the National Labor Relations Board while the Senate is out of town, bypassing lawmakers who’ve blocked his choices for federal agencies.

Obama is appointing Sharon Block, Terence Flynn and Richard Griffin to the labor board, which has been in the middle of a partisan fight over the role of government in regulating business. The labor board started this year with two members, too few to make decisions or issue rulings.

Union groups, led by the AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union, applauded Obama’s action and urged the five-member board to make changes that would make it easier for employees to organize a union.

“If Senate Republicans had their way, the NLRB would be unable to operate indefinitely,” Mary Kay Henry, president of the 2.2 million member SEIU, said in an e-mailed statement. “In these economic times, shutting down or hobbling an independent federal agency charged with protecting workers’ rights is simply not an option.”

Fred Wszolek, a spokesman for the Workforce Fairness Institute, which oppose unions, said the appointments were a “giveaway to Big Labor.” Obama is more focused on helping unions than worrying about workers and small businesses, he said.

Paying Back Bosses

“This White House has demonstrated beyond question that it places greater importance on paying back union bosses than creating jobs and turning around the economy,” Wszolek said in an e-mailed statement.

The president earlier announced he’s appointing Richard Cordray as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency after Senate Republicans blocked his confirmation.

Block is the Labor Department’s deputy assistant secretary for congressional affairs. From 2006 to 2009, she was senior counsel for the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee under the late Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts. Griffin is general counsel for the International Union of Operating Engineers and was on the board of the Lawyers Coordinating Committee at the AFL-CIO since 1994.

Flynn is currently chief counsel to the one Republican member of the labor board.

“Taxpayers deserve a fully functioning government,” Representative George Miller of California, the top Democrat on the House committee that deals with labor issues, said in an emailed statement.

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