GOP senators push bill to kill NLRB

WASHINGTON – Eleven Senate Republicans have introduced a bill to virtually shut down the National Labor Relations Board.

Led by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the top GOP’er on the Senate Labor Committee, the group wants to ban the board from making any decisions until it has a legal quorum of at least three members confirmed by the Senate.

The Right Wing in the GOP-run House jammed through an identical ban late last month, by a 219-209 margin, with 10 Republicans there defecting from the anti-worker party line and joining all 199 Democrats in opposing the measure.

The Office of Management and Budget has already announced it will recommend President Obama veto the anti-NLRB bill should it reach his desk.

And the AFL-CIO, in a letter to lawmakers, strongly opposed the legislation. Legislative Director Bill Samuel said the Senate should do its constitutional duty and confirm Obama’s nominees to the NLRB, which oversees labor-management relations.

During the House debate on the anti-NLRB bill, several Democrats called the measure part of the Republican anti-worker crusade, whose objective is to destroy unions and collective bargaining in the U.S., while eroding the middle class.

Left unsaid in the GOP’s statement is that GOP filibusters blocked Obama’s NLRB nominees, forcing him to appoint two board members during Senate recesses. A GOP-president-named federal court panel ruled in January that the “recess appointees,” and the hundreds of decisions they’ve voted on since Jan. 2012, are illegal.

Obama nominated those recess appointees, Democrats Sharon Block and Richard Griffin – a former union general counsel – for regular board seats. They, plus his two GOP nominees, both pro-boss lawyers, will face a Senate Labor Committee confirmation hearing on May 16. So will current board Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce, the only non-recess NLRB member. Obama nominated him for a new term.

“The NLRB has traditionally made major policy changes and interpretations only with the affirmative votes of at least three board members, typically from a full 5-member board. Yet, even with unconstitutionally recess-appointed board members, the board continues to issue decisions overruling well-established precedent and replacing it with new policy that is favored by the administration’s supporters,” Alexander claimed.

GOP co-sponsors of the anti-NLRB bill include Sens. Roy Blunt (Mo.), Mark Kirk (Ill.) and Pat Roberts (Kansas), all Labor Committee members. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who is considering a 2016 GOP presidential race, is also a co-sponsor.

Photo: halfwaytoconcord/Flickr


Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.