President Barack Obama has selected two nominees to replace prior recess appointees on the National Labor Relations Board as part of a deal with Republican Senators. The deal could potentially lead to the Board having all five Board Member positions filled for the first time in years.
As we previously reported, on January 25, 2013, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held that three of President Obama’s “recess appointments” to the Board were unconstitutional. In February of 2013, President Obama re-nominated recess appointees Richard F. Griffin Jr. and Sharon Block to the Board. Republican lawmakers opposed confirmation votes on their nominations, as well as the nominations of several other non-Board appointees. As part of a deal to allow votes on the non-Board appointees, President Obama agreed to drop the nominations of Griffin and Block.
In their place, President Obama nominated Nancy Schiffer and Kent Hirozawa. The background of both nominees suggests that they will not break from the Board’s recent pro-union tendencies. Schiffer was associate general counsel at the AFL-CIO and before that worked as deputy general counsel to the United Auto Workers. Hirozawa is currently chief counsel to Board Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce. Previously, Hirozawa represented unions and employees in private practice, and served as a field attorney for the Board.
The Senate is expected to act quickly on their nominations, with a committee hearing and vote said to occur just a week after the nominations were announced.
In addition to Schiffer and Hirozawa, President Obama had previously re-nominated Chairman Pearce and had selected Republican nominees Philip A. Miscimarra and Harry I. Johnson III to serve on the Board. If all of the current nominations – Pearce, Schiffer, Hirozawa, Miscimarra, and Johnson – are confirmed, the Board will have a full compliment of members that is expected to have a three to two pro-union split.