Wyatt Employment Law Report

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NLRB Members Griffin and Block to be Replaced as Part of Filibuster Deal

By Edwin S. Hopson

Politico.com and other media are reporting that on July 16, 2013, as part of the agreement to resolve the deadlock over possibly changing the filibuster rules in the Senate, Democrats in consultation with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka agreed that Recess-Appointee Members Richard Griffin and Sharon Block of the NLRB would be removed and replaced by Nancy Schiffer, former Associate General Counsel at the AFL-CIO, and Kent Hirozawa, currently Chief Counsel to NLRB Chairman, Mark Pearce.  A hearing is to be scheduled the week of July 22 before the Senate HELP Committee to approve Schiffer and Hirozawa.  The GOP also agreed not to block the nominee for an opening next year on the NLRB. 

This agreement does not affect the pending case before the Supreme Court in Noel Canning v. NLRB regarding the validity of the President’s recess appointments to the NLRB in January 2012.

See http://www.politico.com/story/2013/07/white-house-consults-with-afl-cio-head-on-nlrb-picks-94280.html#ixzz2ZJKIhWik

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NLRB Nominees in the Middle of Senate Dispute Over Proposed Changes to Filibuster Rules

By Edwin S. Hopson

On July 11, 2013, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) filed cloture on seven nominations including Richard Griffin, Sharon Block and Mark Pearce, all Democrats, to be Members of the National Labor Relations Board.  His motion also included Thomas Perez to be Secretary of Labor.  Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) then asked consent for the Senate to vote on Pearce, and NLRB nominees Harry Johnson and Philip Miscimarra, both of whom are Republican (the Republican Senators’ opposition to Members Griffin and Block centers on the fact that they were recess appointed at a time when Republicans contend the Senate was in session).  Reid objected to McConnell’s request setting up a debate over changing the filibuster rules in the Senate, sometimes called the “nuclear option.”

Reid publicly stated that he wants to amend the filibuster rule to exclude the President’s nominations to positions in Executive Departments and Agencies.  Reid contends that it takes only 51 Senators to pass such an amendment to the Senate’s rules.

McConnell and other Republican Senators have come out in strong opposition, indicating that if that takes place, the Senate will evolve into a simple majority institution, like the House of Representatives.

The final outcome may not be known until late on July 15 or sometime the next day.

In the meantime, the NLRB and the two recess appointees, Members Griffin and Block, have come to be in the center of what may turn out to be a major crisis in the Senate.