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President Obama Announces Two Nominees to NLRB

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December 15, 2011

By Jennifer Dunn

Yesterday, President Obama announced his plan to nominate attorneys Sharon Block and Richard Griffin to the National Labor Relations Board. 

Sharon Block is the deputy secretary for congressional affairs at the U.S. Department of Labor.  Block previously served as senior labor and employment counsel for the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee from 2006 to 2009.  Prior to that experience, Bloch worked as a senior attorney to former NLRB Chairman Robert Battista and as an attorney in the NLRB’s appellate court branch. 

Richard Griffin is the general counsel for the International Union of Operating Engineers and serves on the board of directors for the AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating Committee.  Griffin has held several positions with the IUOE, beginning in 1983 as assistant house counsel.  From 1981 to 1983, Griffin served as counsel to NLRB board members. 

Bloch and Griffin’s nominations join that of labor lawyer Terence Flynn, a Republican whom Obama nominated to the NLRB in January and whose appointment has not yet been acted on by the Senate. 

There are currently three members serving on the five-member NLRB.  Democratic member Craig Becker’s term is set to expire at the end of this year.  At least one NLRB member must be appointed to succeed him or the NLRB will lose its three-member quorum and be unable to render any decisions or promulgate rules.

The nominations are made in the wake of the harshest criticism the NLRB has experienced in years.  The NLRB’s handling of social media issues, its controversial rulemaking endeavors and its most recent effort to prosecute Boeing for an alleged unlawful decision to move operations to South Carolina—a case withdrawn only within the last week—have brought intense scrutiny to the NLRB.  These most recent NLRB nominees likely will face similar scrutiny in the weeks to come. 

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