Mar 29, 2010

NLRB Doubles in Size, Thanks to Recess Appointments by Obama

President Obama took a stand against obstructionist tactics in the Senate this Saturday, making 15 recess appointments--that is to say, filling key administration posts on a temporary basis without confirmation by the full Senate.

This is great news for the National Labor Relations Board, which saw its membership double from two to four. One more member and we'd have a full board. This is a significant step toward having a functioning NLRB that doesn't elicit quite so many frustrated blog posts.

So how come the President went over the Senate's head to make these appointments? Could it have something to do with the fact that the Senate has blocked over 200 critical nominations since the beginning of 2008, leaving our federal government severely understaffed during the worst economic crisis in over half a century?

Well, actually, according to the White House Blog, yes:
"While the President respects the critical role the Senate plays in the appointment process, he was no longer willing to let another month go by with key economic positions unfilled, especially at a time when our country is recovering from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression."


"The roadblocks we’ve seen in the Senate have left some government agencies like the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission impaired in fulfilling their mission. These agencies can now get back to working for the American people."

Impaired! That's the word we've been searching for. And to put it all in context, the Congressional Research Service tells us that President George W. Bush made 171 recess appointments throughout his time in office (that's an average of 21 per year!), while President Clinton made 139.

And now, without further ado, your newest NLRB members are ...

Craig Becker: Becker currently serves as Associate General Counsel to both the Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of Labor & Congress of Industrial Organizations. He graduated summa cum laude from Yale College in 1978 and received his J.D. in 1981 from Yale Law School where he was an Editor of the Yale Law Journal. After law school he clerked for the Honorable Donald P. Lay, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. For the past 27 years, he has practiced and taught labor law. He was a Professor of Law at the UCLA School of Law between 1989 and 1994 and has also taught at the University of Chicago and Georgetown Law Schools. He has published numerous articles on labor and employment law in scholarly journals, including the Harvard Law Review and Chicago Law Review, and has argued labor and employment cases in virtually every federal court of appeals and before the United States Supreme Court.

Mark Pearce: Pearce has been a labor lawyer for his entire career. He is one of the founding partners of the Buffalo, New York law firm of Creighton, Pearce, Johnsen & Giroux where he practices union side labor and employment law before state and federal courts and agencies including the N.Y.S. Public Employment Relations Board, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the National Labor Relations Board. Pearce in 2008 was appointed by the NYS Governor to serve as a Board Member on the New York State Industrial Board of Appeals, an independent quasi-judicial agency responsible for review of certain rulings and compliance orders of the NYS Department of Labor in matters including wage and hour law. Pearce has taught several courses in the labor studies program at Cornell University’s School of Industrial Labor Relations Extension. He is a Fellow in the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers. Prior to 2002, Pearce practiced union side labor law and employment law at Lipsitz, Green, Fahringer, Roll, Salisbury & Cambria LLP. From 1979 to 1994, he was an attorney and District Trial Specialist for the NLRB in Buffalo, NY. Pearce received his J.D. from State University of New York, and his B.A. from Cornell University.

(Bios courtesy of the White House Press Office)