Posts Tagged ‘Rolling Stones’

The NLRB – The U.S. Senate – The Rolling Stones

You may very well be wondering what these three topics have in common.  While watching the news yesterday regarding the debates in the Senate about the “nuclear option” threatened by Senator Harry Reid, which would have changed long-standing rules of the Senate to permit presidential nominations for positions in the administration to be passed by a simple majority rather than needing six votes to survive a threatened filibuster, I was reminded of a Rolling Stones song.  In 1968, noted contemporary philosophers Mick Jagger and Keith Richards penned the words to what was to become one of the Rolling Stones’ most popular songs, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”  If you are an aging baby boomer like me, the chorus of that song is hardwired into your brain, especially these lines:

“No, you can’t always get what you want

But if you try sometime, you just might find

You get what you need.”

As most people that follow labor law at all know by now, there has been a controversy for the last several years regarding the composition of the National Labor Relations Board and the validity of several “recess appointments” made by President Obama to the National Labor Relations Board in January 2012.  (For additional information, see NLRB DC Circuit.)

For the last several months, the NLRB, which is supposed to have five members (traditionally three from the President’s party and two from the other party), has been operating with just three Democrat members, Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce and recess appointees Sharon Block and Richard Griffin.  Senate Republicans were incensed that even after the recess appointments had been declared unconstitutional by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, President Obama re-nominated Block and Griffin to the NLRB.  It appeared that a line in the sand had been drawn over these nominees, which brought Senator Reid to the point of threatening the “nuclear option.”

As a result of lengthy discussions over the past two days, a compromise was reached which allowed pending nominations, including that of Thomas Perez (for Secretary of Labor) to move ahead for votes, and the submission of replacement nominations for Block and Griffin.  It now appears that the nominations of Chairman Pearce and Republicans Harry Johnson and Phillip Miscimarra, which had been previously voted out of Committee, will move forward together with replacement nominees, Democrats Kent Hirozawa (currently Chief Counsel to Chairman Pearce) and Nancy Schiffer (a former AFL-CIO General Counsel).

While many in the employer community seemed perfectly happy with the idea of a completely nonfunctioning National Labor Relations Board, at least a full Board, comprised of both Democrats and Republicans, will be far better than a Board with three Democrats.  Even though the Obama Administration, through the Democrat members of the NLRB, will be able to achieve some, if not all, of its administrative agenda, there will at least be dissenting opinions to NLRB actions, which will assist in clarifying the issues for any reviewing court.

This brings me back to the words of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.  As a result of the compromises, no one may have gotten what they wanted, but they may have gotten what they needed.

This article is authored by attorney Tom Davies and is intended for educational purposes and to give you general information and a general understanding of the law only, not to provide specific legal advice.  Any particular questions should be directed to your legal counsel or, if you do not have one, please feel free to contact us.


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