Never mind the obvious fact that the National Labor Relations Board, above all, is supposed to protect the rights of employees from both employers and from unions, there is something inherently wrong when a federal agency–let alone an “independent” federal agency that is assigned with applying the law in a fair and impartial matter–becomes merely a tool for one side or the other.
From Day One, this has been the paramount problem with Barack Obama’s picks for the National Labor Relations Board. The alleged “neutrality” with Obama’s NLRB has become something of a standing joke among employers dealing with union issues.
On Tuesday, Obama’s most recent picks–recently-retired AFL-CIO lawyer Nancy Schiffer and co-nominee, Kent Hirozawa (a lawyer who spent 20 years working for a union-side law firm)–made a “pledge” from that they could be “fair and impartial.”
President Barack Obama’s newest picks for the National Labor Relations Board sought to assure Senate lawmakers Tuesday that they can be fair and impartial in resolving business-labor disputes, despite backgrounds that include advocating for unions.
While there has always been partisans on the NLRB–Barack Obama’s first appointment following his 2009 inauguration was to name former Teamster attorney and then-NLRB member Wilma Liebman as chairman of the NLRB–one would be hard pressed to find more openly partisan NLRB nominees than those chosen by Barack Obama.
Following Liebman’s appointment to chair the NLRB, it was the nomination of Craig Becker, an attorney for both the AFL-CIO and SEIU that set new partisan precedent.
As a nominee, Becker first committed that he would recuse himself from cases involving his former employer, then later broke that same pledge by claiming that SEIU locals were different than the SEIU.
Although he was also associate general counsel to the AFL-CIO, Craig Becker’s hearing of cases involving the 57 unions who are members of the AFL-CIO were never called into question. However, Becker was never confirmed by the U.S. Senate and he is now back at the AFL-CIO.
This brings to mind the inherent and blatant conflicts of interest that Ms. Schiffer brings to the NLRB. Her advocacy on behalf of a federation of 57 unions is akin to a Republican President putting an in-house lawyer for the U.S. Chamber or the National Association of Manufacturers onto the NLRB. Were this to occur, unions would go ballistic.
In 2007, unions waged a campaign to “close the NLRB for renovations” when they were unhappy with George Bush’s NLRB. As opposed to the NLRB closing, Senate Democrats refused confirm Bush’s nominees to fill NLRB vacancies until the next president took office.
Now, with Senate Republicans having lost their spines last week during the showdown with Harry Reid over his threat to use the “nuclear option,” Senate Republicans are about to feign their surprise after they confirm more union stalwarts to a labor board that should be their protect employees from employers and from unions.
This is why companies are beginning to openly chastise the NLRB. In the words of one employer-sponsored website, NLRBTruth.com, “the Obama administration has turned the NLRB into a pro-big labor ‘Kangaroo Court.'”