In support, Logan makes the incredible claim that “the reason the NLRB has been short of numbers is that, for over two years, the GOP Congress has effectively declared war on the labor board and Republican Senators have vowed to block any of President Obama’s NLRB nominations. If they were to evaluate the president’s nominations on their merits, the board would soon return to five members and we could quickly end the uncertainty on important issues effecting workers and employers.”
To start, it is noteworthy that the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions (HELP) is Tom Harkin. One needs only to conduct a cursory review of Senator Harkin’s record to find it is strongly in favor of labor organizations. In fact, his 2012 ranking by the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) is 100 percent. The Iowa Senator’s 2011-2012 ranking by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is also 100 percent. As chairman of the committee, Harkin could have convened hearings for Board Members Richard Griffin and Sharon Block at any point over the course of the last year. But he decided against doing so, which leads to a simple question, why?
The obvious answer is Richard Griffin is so tainted, he couldn’t possibly survive a serious or thorough vetting. Consider that Griffin was nominated in mid-December 2011 and recess appointed on January 4, 2012 meaning the appropriate paperwork was never reviewed and he never responded to a single question. Also, it is worth pointing out that the Senate was convening pro-forma sessions from December 20, 2011 through January 23, 2012, which calls into question the legality of the president’s action, as it is currently being litigated before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
The truth is, Mr. Griffin has never come before the HELP Committee because he would be evaluated “on the merits.” He would answer questions about the fact he was general counsel of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE). During his tenure, 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.”
Being Griffin’s calling card for the government job is his tenure at the IUOE, presumably he would have to address inquiries about his role within the union and its seemingly endless connections to organized crime, including the Genovese and Colombo crime families. Next, he would certainly face scrutiny over recent revelations concerning a federal extortion lawsuit, which names him as a defendant. 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.”
So, by all means, let’s “evaluate the President’s nominations on their merits” as Mr. Logan proposes. We believe a discussion about the “merits” of Richard Griffin’s credentials to serve on the National Labor Relations Board would be of great interest to the American people, and more so, to the workers and businesses affected by the government agency’s decisions, which are routinely skewed in favor of Big Labor and should surprise no one considering it is staffed with individuals such as Griffin.
Fred Wszolek is a spokesperson for the Workforce Fairness Institute (WFI).