President Obama’s decision to recess appoint Richard Griffin and Sharon Block to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is but another example of the stark contrast between his actions as president and his words as a candidate. Obama promised the American people that if elected president he would change the tone of politics in Washington, D.C. and turn the economy around.
He has done neither. He recess appointed labor radical Craig Becker after his nomination received bipartisan opposition, who together with Obama’s other nominees have poisoned the atmosphere of labor relations in the U.S. They have engaged in an unprecedented assault against the rights of workers and their employers chilling business investment during an economic downturn.
Why would a president who promised to make the economy his top priority turn his back on workers and small businesses? Big Labor payback and his need in 2012 for still more campaign cash. Less than a year before Election Day, Obama’s approval rating is one of lowest in modern times among incumbents seeking re-election. Consequently, he needs to grow his campaign war chest with the help of special interests, particularly Big Labor.
The White House has made the calculation that half a billion in political support from union bosses is more important than the economy and the tens of thousands of businesses struggling to survive and employ workers. The same government that these businesses support with their tax dollars has declared war on them. As much as some believe, the government will not lead us to a real and verifiable economic recovery; the ingenuity, work ethic and industriousness of the American people will create jobs and turn things around. And that will only take place if the engine of American job creation – small business – isn’t drowned.
Yet, the track record of Obama’s labor board demonstrates a deep resentment for the business community. Late last year, the NLRB issued a new, legally suspect rule concerning “quickie” or “ambush” elections that is already being challenged in court. The regulation will limit employer free speech by cutting the amount of time by at least half for workplace elections. Next, the so-called “independent” agency radically redefined what constitutes a collective bargaining unit in every American industry. The NLRB authorized labor to petition to represent “micro-units,” small numbers of employees, as few as two or three doing the same job in the same location. The rule change will give Big Labor instant access to an employer and result in increased labor costs and conflict among employees.
And there is no reasonable assumption that Griffin or Block will deviate in any way from the track record established by labor radical Craig Becker, who just left the board and Wilma Liebman, who previously chaired it. In fact, Richard Griffin – the general counsel for International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) – would be the second nominee in the agency’s history to be nominated for a full term having arrived directly from a labor union. Becker has the distinction of being the first. Next, Griffin serves on the board of directors for the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) Lawyers Coordinating Committee meaning he has long been in the pocket of Richard Trumka and most likely has a pension plan through the union, which clearly represents a serious conflict of interest.
The other recess appointee is Sharon Block, the deputy assistant secretary for Congressional affairs at the U.S. Department of Labor. To start, there are many important questions to be asked as to whether Block could be neutral and objective. She worked for Secretary Hilda Solis, a former Member of Congress who has been one of the most vocal advocates for the Employee ‘Forced’ Choice Act and who currently is seeking to change the rule on “persuader” activity requiring debilitating levels of disclosure on the part of employers, law firms, consultants and trade associations that provide services regarding labor relations and union organizing. The rule will essentially gag businesses leaving them defenseless in organizing campaigns so more workers can be forced into unions.
The constitutionally suspect recess appointments of Griffin and Block come less than a month after they were nominated. They have not answered one question or participated in one hearing. The Obama Administration – led by a former United States Senator – has demonstrated a complete disregard for the Constitution and the requirement the upper chamber provide advice and consent for all presidential nominations for executive and judicial posts.
In 2005, President Obama’s vice president, then Senator Joe Biden spoke out regarding recess appointments saying, “‘As I said, we don’t work for the president. And no president is entitled to the appointment of anyone he nominates. No president is entitled by the mere fact he has nominated someone. That’s why they wrote the Constitution the way they did: It says ‘advice and consent.’”
And if that wasn’t enough, Obama’s own deputy solicitor general argued the recess appointments of Griffin and Block are not legal taking the position before the Supreme Court that “the [congressional] recess has to be longer than three days” for the president to recess appoint a nominee.
The recess appointments of Richard Griffin and Sharon Block to the NLRB represent a complete failure on the part of President Obama to deliver on the promises he made to the American people. Obama has squarely cast his lot with the union bosses bankrolling his campaign and turned his back on American workers and small businesses.
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