Pocan Calls on Sen. McConnell to Stop Denying Justice to Workers
WASHINGTON—In another transparent attempt to weaken the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and deny 80 million private sector workers, both union and non-union, the protection they are guaranteed under law, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is refusing to allow votes on President Obama’s nominees to the Board. Without a fully-functioning NLRB, hardworking Americans will have no recourse when their rights are violated, creating uncertainty for both workers and businesses. In response, U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-02) has joined more than 200 of his colleagues in a letter to McConnell, urging him to stop the obstructionist tactics and allow the Senate to vote on the president’s NLRB nominees.
“The Republican attacks on the NLRB prevent the agency from performing its duties and leave workers and employers without the protections they need and deserve,” Pocan said. “As employees continue to wait for their cases to be addressed and for justice to be served, their livelihoods and their ability to provide for their families remain at risk. Senator McConnell needs to stop his partisan obstructionism and backdoor attacks to rewrite our nation’s labor laws and allow a vote on the President’s NLRB nominees without delay.”
Earlier this year, President Obama nominated five individuals to the Board, all of whom continue to wait for votes by the full Senate. If the Senate does not act, come August 27th the five-member NLRB will only have two sitting members, one short of the legal minimum needed to conduct its work. This would be a disaster for workers and employers all across the country, as there would be no federal agency left to enforce labor laws for private-sector employers. Already, because of a recent decision by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals that brought into question the ability of President Obama to make recess appointments to the Board, businesses are challenging NLRB decisions in unprecedented numbers—already there have been 600 challenges to Board decisions involving Obama’s recess appointees, Ms. Sharon Block and Mr. Richard Griffin.
McConnell has stated that he will not allow votes on NLRB nominees unless Ms. Block and Mr. Griffin are replaced.
“Demanding the resignation of Ms. Block and Mr. Griffin is counterproductive and ignores both legal process and precedent,” the members wrote to McConnell. “Each day that the Board sits idle is one in which workers’ lawful rights are put at risk. We urge you to withdraw this partisan demand and allow the Senate to fulfill its constitutional responsibility to consider presidential appointments, and to do so without continued delay.”
The full text of the letter is below:
July 9, 2013
Senator Mitch McConnell
317 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator McConnell:
We are writing to express our serious concern over recent press reports detailing your position regarding the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Specifically, your office stated that the Senate will not vote on the full package of Board nominees unless current Board members Ms. Sharon Block and Mr. Richard Griffin are replaced. This is nothing more than a blatant and cynical attempt to shut down the NLRB’s lawful ability to investigate and remedy unfair labor practices.
As you are well aware, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (DC Circuit), Noel Canning v. NLRB, decision to invalidate the President Obama’s recess appointments of Ms. Block and Mr. Griffin is not the final legal say on the matter. Therefore, their current nominations should not be disqualified. The President has asked the Supreme Court to review the decision, and there is pending litigation in at least five other district courts. Demanding the resignation of Ms. Block and Mr. Griffin is counterproductive and ignores both legal process and precedent.
At the moment, only three members are sitting on the NLRB, with one member’s term due to expire in August. As a result, the Board is at risk of being unable to function. Furthermore, employers are already using the Noel Canning decision to challenge the NLRB’s decisions and the DC Circuit Court is putting these cases on hold, leaving workers without remedy when they are illegally fired or when their employer refuses to negotiate in good faith.
These delays and the uncertainty that they cause have real world consequences for American workers. For example, Marcus Hedger from Illinois has lost his family home while waiting for a final decision on his illegal firing. In September 2012 a unanimous bipartisan panel of the NLRB determined in that Mr. Hedger was terminated as a result of union activity and ordered that he be reinstated with back pay. However, the company appealed that decision to the DC Circuit Court. In January, the case was delayed due to the Noel Canning decision, leaving Mr. Hedger without any remedy. It has been several years since the situation began and he still is struggling for justice.
The NLRB provides critical protections to American workers and gives businesses much needed labor certainty. Each day that the Board sits idle is one in which workers’ lawful rights are put at risk. This continued ideological obstructionism is denying hardworking Americans the crucial worker protections that the NLRB provides. We urge you to withdraw this partisan demand and allow the Senate to fulfill its constitutional responsibility to consider presidential appointments, and to do so without continued delay.