Yesterday, President Obama sent to the Senate the nominations of the three National Labor Relations Board Members which he previously appointed to the Board during a pro forma session of Congress last month. The nominations read:
Sharon Block, of the District of Columbia, to be a Member of the National Labor Relations Board for the term of five years expiring December 16, 2014, vice Craig Becker, to which position she was appointed during last recess of the Senate.
Terence Francis Flynn, of Maryland, to be a Member of the National Labor Relations Board for the term of five years expiring August 27, 2015, vice Peter Schaumber, term expired, to which position he was appointed during the last recess of the Senate.
Richard F. Griffin, Jr., of the District of Columbia, to be a Member of the National Labor Relations Board for the term of five years expiring August 27, 2016, vice Wilma B. Liebman, term expired, to which position he was appointed during the last recess of the Senate.
These three Members were sworn in earlier in the year following the President's controversial efforts to recess appoint them to the positions. That decision is the subject of considerable current, and likely additional future,litigation. Moreover, two House Committees have recently held hearings exploring the appointments, with a third set for 10:00 a.m. tomorrow before the Committee on the Judiciary.
Expect these re-submitted nominations to go nowhere fast. A broader Democratic majority in the 111th Congress was unable to advance the President's 2010 nominations to the Board -- with two Democratic Senators voting against cloture. The controversial tenure of previous recess appointees and the very active 2011 that resulted at the Board, coupled with the current election year partisan gridlock in D.C., all but guarantees that nothing more will be done with these nominations at least until after resolution of the pending litigation.
The partisan wrangling over empty Board seats and the threat of recess appointments by both parties has been problematic for years. There is little hope on the horizon that it will be resolved anytime soon. Our reliance on the value of precedent in labor law, and stability in labor relations will continue to suffer as a result.
In the meantime, the full complement of Board Members will continue to serve, and one might expect the Democratic majority to continue to issue the same variety of bold pronouncements, decisions, reversals and rule-making as during 2011.