Last week, a Senate committee voted to approve five nominees for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The NLRB has been in a holding pattern since an Court of Appeal’s decision ruled that President Obama lacked the authority to make certain recess appointments to the board.
The NLRB is responsible for questions involving union elections and issues of unfair labor practices. The agency originated in the labor laws of the New Deal. The NLRB is responsible for investigating violations and enforcing provisions of the National Labor Relations Act. The agency also has administrative law judges that make decisions on these matters and the board provides appellate review of those decisions employer and employee rights.
The NLRB has become something of political football in the last decade. It has not had five Senate-confirmed members in place since 2003, and President George W. Bush had difficulty obtaining Senate confirmation of his appointments. Recess appointments have used by presidents for many years, with Regan making 243 and Bush, 105.
President Obama’s recess appointments were ruled invalid by a D.C. Circuit Court panel made up entirely of Republican-appointed judges. This ruling has placed many decisions of the past year by the NLRB into a questionable status, as disallowing Obama’s recess appointments would deprive the board of the quorum necessary for it to make valid decisions.
The Senate vote was along party lines, and the approval by the committee allows the consideration to move the full Senate for a confirmation vote. The NLRB is also appealing the D.C. Circuit decision to the Supreme Court.
Source: Washington Post, “Senate committee approves Obama’s NLRB nominees despite GOP opposition,” Josh Hicks, May 23, 2013