Union lawyer, labor board counsel nominated to NLRB

President Obama nominated two new members to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) late Tuesday.

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Obama picked Nancy Schiffer, a former associate general counsel to the AFL-CIO, and Kent Hirozawa, chief counsel to NLRB Chairman Mark Pearce, to be members of the labor board.

The NLRB picks come as part of a Senate deal to move forward on several of Obama’s nominations to the executive branch, including a package of nominees to the labor board.

Also part of that compromise to avert the “nuclear option” — a Senate rules change that would allow for a simple majority vote on nominees — was the president withdrawing the nominations of Sharon Block and Richard Griffin Jr. to the NLRB. Block and Griffin were recess appointments to the labor board, but their appointments were ruled unconstitutional in federal court and drew fierce opposition from Republican senators.

The Senate is expected to move quickly on the new nominees since the NLRB will soon not be able to issue decisions and regulations. Pearce’s term ends Aug. 27, which would bring the NLRB down to two members, less than the required three to form a quorum.

Republicans and business groups have targeted the labor board with legislation and litigation, arguing the NLRB has favored labor during the Obama administration. Unions mounted a campaign this year to fill all five seats on the NLRB, saying the agency protects workers from labor law violations.

“The National Labor Relations Board is responsible for enforcing protections that are fundamental to growing the economy and creating jobs from the middle class. It gives me great confidence that such dedicated and capable individuals have agreed to join the board, and I look forward to the agency continuing its work to promote better wages and conditions for all American workers,” Obama said in a statement.