Earlier today, the United States Senate confirmed Richard Griffin’s nomination to serve as the General Counsel to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB or the Board).  Earlier in the day, sixty-two Senators had voted to bring Griffin’s nomination up for a vote, despite vows by Republican leaders to block Griffin’s nomination from consideration.  The final vote to confirm Griffin’s nomination to serve as General Counsel was 55-44. 

Griffin, who was nominated by President Obama back in August of this year, will assume his post in the coming weeks.  As such, the Board will have a fully confirmed General Counsel for the first time in several years. 

Griffin served as a Board member pursuant to the President’s invalidated 2012 "recess" appointments, but had his formal nomination to a Board Member position withdrawn back in July 2013 as part of the so-called "nuclear option" compromise in the Senate.  He previously served as the General Counsel to the International Union of Operating Engineers, leading some Republicans to dismiss him as being too "pro-union."  However, Board Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce praised Griffin’s confirmation, stating that Griffin will "play a vital role in ensuring that [the NLRB] continues to provide excellent service to the American people."

The Board now has a full assembly of five members, along with a confirmed General Counsel. Accordingly, we can expect the Board to renew its push to expand aggressively the scope of union and employee rights under the National Labor Relations Act.  Prudent employers should be reviewing policies and practices now to ensure compliance with existing law and in preparation for significant changes ahead.