Union leader attacks Senate Democrats for NLRB concession in deal

The leader of the nation’s largest telecommunications union is threatening some Senate Democrats for siding with Republicans in a deal requiring President Obama to withdraw his nominations to the country's union protection watchdog.

Larry Cohen, president of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), said Tuesday that the two members of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Sharon Block and Richard Griffin Jr., are “definitely tossed under the bus” in a Senate deal that will allow five of Obama’s other nominees to receive up-or-down votes before the Senate.

“There is not one intellectual argument, either about Block and Griffin, why those nominations shouldn’t go forward. It’s just [Republicans] want their pound of flesh from working people in this country, and this is where they’re going to get it because they were able to convince four or five Democrats to go with them,” he said.

"Those Democrats will know we know who they are, and we know, as a progressive coalition in this country, you will not split up the fight, and we will continue to work together … to fix the Senate,” Cohen added.

He said that the Democrats had been “peeled off” from the rest of the party.

To those senators, whom he would not name, Cohen said, “That’s a disgrace what you did, and you did it for narrow political reasons, and in your states, you will have to answer to people who you told that you would stand by democratizing the U.S. Senate.”

Under the terms of the Senate deal, Republicans would not filibuster Obama’s replacement nominees to the board.

Cohen said that Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was prepared to fight for Block and Griffin if he had the support of the full Senate Democratic conference.

Block and Griffin, along with Terence Flynn, who has since left the NLRB, were appointed by President Obama to the union watchdog during a 2012 recess in the Senate.

Republicans have claimed that those appointments were unconstitutional since the Senate was only in a “pro-forma” recess, and point to a January federal appeals court ruling that backs up their case.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to consider the case, Noel Canning v. NLRB, during its next term.