Board Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce won a new term by a 59-38 margin, with seven Republicans joining both independents and 50 Democrats to approve his nomination. New Democratic nominees Nancy Schiffer, an AFL-CIO counsel, and Kent Hirozawa, Pearce’s top aide, won by 54-44 margins, with only Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, joining both independents and 51 Democrats. Murkowski also voted for Pearce.
The two Republican nominees, management side labor lawyers Phillip Miscimarra and Harry Johnson, won by unanimous voice votes. The five votes mark the first time in a decade that permanent members fill all five NLRB seats.
Communications Workers President Larry Cohen, who led the fight to break the GOP filibusters that had halted prior Obama administration NLRB nominees – and that threatened Pearce, Schiffer and Hirozawa — hailed the votes, but said the fight for democracy in the Senate and in the U.S. isn’t over.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka predicted the five will “fairly and impartially oversee the workplace rights of all.” Change To Win Chair Joe Hansen had no immediate comment. Both had urged senators to end the deadlock.
“Today’s action is long overdue,” Cohen said. “President Obama began his second term without a Democratic majority on the NLRB, and for workers that has meant continued delay in workplace justice, whether to enforce their bargaining rights or protect them from an employer’s illegal action.Today’s Senate action is a step toward justice for 80 million private sector workers.”
Senate Democrats overcame the filibusters and obstruction of Obama’s nominees, not just for the NLRB, but for other posts, too, he added. But the votes “mean this Labor Day, 80 million workers will continue to have the protections of federal law and that the only agency that can enforce workplace rights will be fully functional.”
Mark Gruenberg writes for Press Associates, Inc., news service. Used by permission.