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February 12, 2010

Obama Blocking Labor Board From Functioning

-- by Dave Johnson

President Obama is refusing to do "recess appointments" to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), even after a majority of the Senate voted to confirm one of his nominees.

Some background: The NLRB is supposed to have 5 members of its Board. It currently only has 2 and requires 3 to do anything, so it is unable to function. Republicans have filibustered the two candidates that President Obama nominated 7 months ago. The President has the power to make recess appointments when the senate is not in session. President Bush's anti-labor nominees were confirmed unanimously, and Bush made a total of 171 recess appointments.

President Obama has said he will not do recess appointments. He feels being "bipartisan" is more important than getting things done. This at a time when the Repubicans have said in the open that their strategy tis to keep the President from getting anything done.

If you want to call with your opinion of this, the White House Switchboard is: 202-456-1111 OR 202-456-1414

Richard Trumka, head of the AFL-CIO, writes, No Deal,

Senate Republican obstructionists are working overtime to block the interests of working people. Today we hear the White House and Senate have cut a deal with Republicans that will keep President Obama's nominees off the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for even longer.

The NLRB's job is to protect workers' rights--but for more than two years it has been functioning with only two members instead of the five it should have. Working people need an NLRB that can enforce the National Labor Relations Act--not one hobbled by vacancies.

President Obama's nominees--Craig Becker and Mark Pearce--are highly qualified, well-respected labor lawyers who were nominated seven months ago, in July.

But Senate Republicans have ignored the working people they represent and blocked the appointments.

Yesterday, in a deal with the Republican minority, the Senate confirmed 27 non-controversial Obama appointees. The White House apparently has agreed not to make Presidents Day recess appointments--a process that allows the president to temporarily appoint his own nominee while Congress is out of session. That means NLRB nominees--and working people--are out in the cold.

A big win for the Republicans. A big win for corporations that want to file down the teeth of the NLRB. A big loss for working people.

We're used to the Republicans playing the role of Lucy and yanking the football away each time Charlie Brown tries to kick it. We've seen it on health care, jobs legislation, you name it.

President Obama has to end this farce.

Becker already received majority approval from the Senate, but apparently majority rule isn't good enough any more. A Republican filibuster--joined by Democrats Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Blanche Lincoln (Ark.)--blocked his nomination from going forward. By contrast, when President Bush made his initial appointments to the NLRB, a package of nominees including three management lawyers was approved unanimously.

So today and every day through the congressional recess, union members and other activists from working America will be calling the White House and demanding a recess appointment now for Craig Becker and Mark Pearce.

These next few weeks will be crucial in building support for a fully functional NLRB. Progressives should take every opportunity to let their congressional representatives and the White House know that protection of workers' rights is one of the first and most important changes working people expected to see when they voted in 2008. It's been 13 months since the inauguration--it's time.

Give recess appointments to Craig Becker and Mark Pearce during the Presidents Day recess so the NLRB can do its job.

Posted by Dave Johnson at February 12, 2010 12:35 PM


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