At this stage, it should seem glaringly obvious to National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Members Richard Griffin and Sharon Block that they should step down from the government agency. Both the legitimacy of their tenure over the last year and anything they do going forward is seriously in question. After being recess appointed by President Obama on January 4, 2012 even though the U.S. Senate was convening regularly in pro-forma sessions, Griffin and Block worked to issue decisions and write rules to the benefit of Big Labor and to the detriment of American employees and employers. Yet, the ruling recently reached by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit confirmed what most of Washington, D.C. knew all along: the President’s actions were unconstitutional, the NLRB lacked a quorum to act, and decisions issued after January 4, 2012 would be declared void and of no force and effect.
Griffin has an added reason to return to the company of Big Labor bosses. He is embroiled in a controversy surrounding his role in an extortion and racketeering case in which he is named as a defendant. The matter extends to his time as general counsel of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE). Griffin is mentioned in the portion of the suit which deals directly with the embezzlement and efforts to cover it up. According to The Wall Street Journal, “Mr. Griffin is named in a federal complaint filed in October by 10 members of IUOE Local 501, out of Los Angeles, which describes a ‘scheme to defraud [the local] out of revenue, cost savings and membership,’ by means of kickbacks, bribery, violent threats and extortion. The suit names dozens of IUOE officials as defendants, and Mr. Griffin is highlighted in a section describing an embezzlement and its subsequent hush-up.”
The Washington Free Beacon reports, “According to the lawsuit filed by 10 members of Los Angeles-based IUOE Local 501, which represents workers in Southern California and Southern Nevada, Griffin participated in a conspiracy to manipulate the operation of Local 501 ‘through a pattern of racketeering activity.’ Griffin was served with the complaint and a court summons relating to the lawsuit at his Washington, D.C., home on Dec. 4, according to documents filed in court.”
According to Fox News, “[t]he rap sheet for members of the International Union of Operating Engineers reads like something out of ‘Goodfellas.’ Embezzlement. Wire fraud. Bribery. That’s just scratching the surface of crimes committed by the IUOE ranks.”
“Public documents…show that more than 60 IUOE members have been arrested, indicted or jailed in the last decade on charges that include labor racketeering, extortion, criminal enterprise, bodily harm and workplace sabotage.”
“In some of the more egregious examples, federal prosecutors alleged in February 2003 that the Genovese and Colombo crime families wrested control of two IUOE locals, and stole $3.6 million from major New York area construction projects – including the Museum of Modern Art and minor league baseball stadiums for the Yankees and Mets in Staten and Coney Islands.”
All of this has received the attention of Members of Congress. No less than three bills have been introduced in the last week addressing President Obama’s Labor Board.
Senator Barrasso introduced the “NLRB Freeze Act of 2013,” which would stop the agency from “enforcing rules, regulations and decisions issued since January 2012.” Senator Blunt introduced “The Advice and Consent Restoration Act,” which eliminates Griffin and Block’s salaries, and “block[s] the board from taking any action until these appointees are legally confirmed.” And Senators Johanns and Alexander rolled out “The Restoring the Constitutional Balance of Power Act of 2013,” which “prohibits [the] NLRB from undertaking or enforcing any decisions that required the approval of a quorum of board members.”
All of this precedes a letter sent to Griffin and Block signed by 40 U.S. Senators calling on them to step aside. In part the letter states, “We write to insist that you immediately leave the National Labor Relations Board, withdraw from all Board activities and stop drawing salaries and other benefits associated with the positions you purport to hold, as your purported appointments have been found constitutionally invalid.”
The writing is on the wall. Enough is enough. It is time for Richard Griffin and Sharon Block to go.