The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is now fully staffed and able to continue to function to protect workers’ rights after the U.S. Senate on July 30 confirmed five members. The votes end a months-long blockade on President Obama’s nominees by Senate Republicans who threatened to shut the board down August 27.
The five members are current NLRB Chairman Mark Pearce; Nancy Schiffer, a former AFL-CIO associate general counsel; and NLRB attorney Kent Hirozawa, currently the chief counsel to Pearce; and attorneys Philip Miscimarra and Harry Johnson, who represent management in labor-management relations.
“This development is long overdue but welcome news for all workers seeking to exercise their rights that are guaranteed by law – the right to organize and form a union in their workplace, the right to bargain collectively for fair wages, hours and conditions of employment and the right to a workplace free of abuse, intimidation and harassment,” notes BCTGM International President David B. Durkee.
“While the weaknesses of U.S. labor law are clear to all of us who have been involved in the organizing process, it is the only law we have. Now, with an NLRB controlled by people who are committed to seeing that the law is fully enforced, the conditions have improved for workers interested in improving their lives through union membership and a collective bargaining agreement,” Durkee adds.
In early July, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was set to change Senate rules that would have eliminated filibusters against certain executive branch nominees; Republicans ended their obstruction tactics on the NLRB nominees, Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez and several others.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says the obstructionism by extremist Republicans “delayed the confirmation of a full Board and caused unnecessary anxiety and pain for working families.”
“With this vote, our country has qualified public servants on duty to defend America’s workers, businesses and families. We congratulate all of the nominees and look forward to having a functioning NLRB that will fairly and impartially oversee the workplace rights of millions of Americans,” Trumka concludes.