As expected, former National Labor Relations Board member Richard Griffin is President Obama’s choice to serve as the Board’s General Counsel (GC). On Thursday, his nomination was sent to the Senate, while acting GC Lafe Solomon’s nomination was withdrawn. Griffin – along with Sharon Block – was seated to the Board via recess appointment on January 4, 2012, and removed from his position as part of the recent Senate deal to approve a full complement of Board members and avoid filibuster reform.
Prior to his recess appointment to the Board, Griffin was a long-term attorney for the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), acting as its general counsel toward the end of his tenure with the union. In addition, Griffin served on the board of directors for the AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating Committee for nearly two decades. Earlier in his career, Griffin worked as counsel to various Board members.
The NLRB general counsel position is a powerful and important one. The GC’s office is ostensibly independent from the Board, and is charged with investigating and prosecuting charges of unfair labor practice cases, and supervising NLRB field offices. It is the GC who decides which cases to pursue, and which policies and procedures field agents should follow.
Although Solomon has been widely criticized for various policies he has implemented while serving in an acting capacity, there is no indication that Griffin’s ideology would be dramatically different. Given his decidedly pro-labor background, time will tell whether Griffin will forge his own path or carry on where Solomon left off.