More than six months after Noel Canning v. National Labor Relations Board came to national attention, the Senate voted to confirm five NLRB nominees, creating a fully confirmed board for the first time in a decade.
The NLRB has continued to issue decisions while awaiting the U.S. Supreme Court review of President Obama’s controversial board appointments of January 2012; those appointments were ruled invalid by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit because the Senate was not technically in recess at that time.
Democrats have argued for months that the Senate failed to act on the nominations as a way “to undermine the mission” of the NLRB. Republicans, meanwhile, have charged that nominees who previously worked for organized labor would have difficulty remaining impartial, an opinion combated by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).
“If you have a nominee that supports collective bargaining, I would think that nominee would be more qualified, not less qualified, because that nominee understands what the law says,” Harkin, chairman of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, said on the Senate floor July 30. “A revitalized NLRB is a critical part of our continued efforts to rebuild a strong economy and a strong middle class.”
Hopefully the NLRB can now put all controversy aside, for the moment, and begin to address the large backlog of union representation and unfair labor practice cases that the board was created to conduct.
New board members Kent Hirozawa (D), Nancy Schiffer (D), Philip Miscimarra (R), Harry Johnson (R) and current board Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce (D) were confirmed by the Senate on July 30. The Supreme Court has agreed to review the U.S. Court of Appeals decision during its next term.