Obama submits new labor board nominees to Senate
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - As part of its bargain to avert a Senate battle over procedural rules, the White House on Tuesday nominated two labor lawyers for the National Labor Relations Board, replacing two previous nominees.
President Barack Obama named Nancy Schiffer and Kent Hirozawa as nominees to the five-member board, which oversees union elections and enforces labor laws, the aide said.
Under the Senate deal, lawmakers will move forward in bringing up for a vote a slate of stalled nominees including current NLRB Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce; labor secretary- nominee Thomas Perez; Environmental Protection Agency nominee Gina McCarthy, Export-Import Bank president-nominee Fred Hochberg, and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director-nominee Richard Cordray.
The Senate confirmed Cordray on Tuesday.
The NLRB was at the center of a broader struggle on Tuesday over those nominees and the Senate's procedural rules. Democrats had threatened to strip Republicans of their power to block Obama nominations with procedural roadblocks known as filibusters.
A battleground for years between pro-labor Democrats and anti-union Republicans, the NLRB has not had a full Senate-confirmed complement of members for nearly a decade.
Sharon Block and Richard Griffin, who had been nominated for the board and were serving as NLRB members without Senate confirmation, were dropped as nominees and replaced with Schiffer and Hirozawa, the White House said.
As their end of the bargain, Republican lawmakers have agreed in writing not to block a confirmation vote to be held by the end of July on Schiffer and Hirozawa, aides said.
Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen praised the Senate's step toward ending gridlock, but lamented that Block and Griffin were casualties in the process.
"The president nominates people he supports and believes in, and it will be two people who believe as strongly as Block and Griffin that workers' rights matter in the 21st century whether they have a union or not, and most don't," Cohen said.