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eLABORate: President Makes Three Recess Appointments to NLRB

January 06, 2012

On Wednesday, January 4, President Barack Obama announced three recess appointments to the NLRB.  They are Democrats Sharon Block and Richard Griffin and Republican Terence F. Flynn.  The last time the Board had its full complement of members was in August 2010.

  • Sharon Block is currently the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Congressional Affairs at the U.S. Department of Labor.  Between 2006 and 2009, she was Senior Labor and Employment Counsel for the Senate HELP Committee, where she worked for Senator Edward M. Kennedy.  Ms. Block previously served at the National Labor Relations Board as senior attorney to Chairman Robert Battista from 2003 to 2006 and as an attorney in the appellate court branch from 1996 to 2003.    
  • Richard Griffin is currently the General Counsel for International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE).  He also serves on the board of directors for the AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating Committee, a position he has held since 1994.  Since 1983, he has held a number of leadership positions with IUOE from Assistant House Counsel to Assistant General Counsel.
  • Terence F. Flynn is currently detailed to serve as Chief Counsel to the NLRB Board Member Brian Hayes.  He was previously Chief Counsel to former NLRB Board Member Peter Schaumber, where he oversaw a variety of legal and policy issues in cases arising under the National Labor Relations Act.  From 1996 to 2003, Mr. Flynn was Counsel in the Labor and Employment Group of Crowell & Moring, LLP, where he handled a wide range of labor and employment issues.

There is an ongoing controversy over the legality of these appointments, however.  The President has the authority to make recess appointments, which, as its name implies, may only occur when the Senate is in recess.  Since December 17, the Senate has been holding pro forma sessions every four days in order to prevent recess appoints.  Republicans now question the legality of these appointments arguing that the Senate is not in recess.