At 10:00 this morning, the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee will convene a hearing in Executive Session for consideration of President Obama’s nomination of Richard Griffin to serve as General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board. The General Counsel serves a 4-year term, and
Mr. Griffin was previously General Counsel for International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE); and on the board of directors for the AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating Committee. Throughout the past thirty years, he has held a number of leadership positions with the IUOE; and from 1985 to 1994, he served as a member of the board of trustees of the IUOE’s central pension fund. Mr. Griffin holds a B.A. from Yale University and a J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law.
Most recently, Mr. Griffin was also one of the acting Board Members purportedly "recess appointed" by President Obama in January 2012. Those appointments were invalidated by a federal court in the January 2013 Noel Canning decision (currently on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court). The President initially re-nominated Mr. Griffin to a Board seat, a move met with partisan opposition leading to a "nuclear" stand-off in the Senate which threatened a drastic overhaul of the rules governing filibusters. In a widely publicized July 2013 "compromise," the President withdrew Mr. Griffin’s nomination to the Board, essentially receiving in return the confirmation of a full five-Member Board. Soon thereafter,Mr. Griffin’s nomination to General Counsel was announced. While it is unclear the extent to which this development might or might not have been part of the nuclear option "compromise," the lack of significant vocal response by Republican Senators certainly suggests it was not the surprise it seemed to many outside the chamber.
During previous hearings concerning Mr. Griffin’s nomination to the Board, most of the opposition focused on the illegality of his 2012 recess appointment, rather than his experience and suitability for the office. Some Senators have at times expressed concerns about his tenure at the IUOE, and his ability to serve more impartially. Still, even in the face of partisan political opposition and some management community concern about the direction of the Board, it is hard to imagine any other outcome of today’s hearing than that Mr. Griffin’s nomination will be approved by a party line vote and sent soon to the full Senate.