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Policy: Labor

Big Labor applauds Richard Griffin's confirmation to Labor Relations Board

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Beltway Confidential,Sean Higgins,Labor unions,Labor,NLRB,Analysis,Presidential Nominees

Big Labor applauded the Senate for confirming Richard Griffin on Tuesday as general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board.

The Senate voted 62-37 to end a filibuster against Griffin's nomination and 55-44 to confirm him. The NLRB oversees labor-management conflicts in the private sector.

"With today's confirmation of Richard Griffin to serve as General Counsel, the NLRB is now running on all cylinders to meet its duty to fairly and impartially oversee the workplace rights of millions of Americans," AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said.

"Richard Griffin is superbly qualified for this important post. He has deep knowledge of labor law and decades of practical experience. He will serve the NLRB with distinction," Trumka said.

Griffin, a former top lawyer with the International Union of Operating Engineers, was a controversial pick. Just last week, a complaint by IUOE members alleging corruption by the union's leaders claimed Griffin gave knowingly false testimony in court.

President Obama installed him as a NLRB board member in January 2012 by recess appointment that federal courts later determined was unconstitutional since the Senate was not officially in recess at the time. The case is set to go before the Supreme Court later this year.

Obama renominated Griffin earlier this year, but Republicans balked, claiming his nomination was tainted.

That refusal, along with that of other nominations, sparked the Senate's July filibuster showdown. The deal that resolved the standoff included Obama dropping Griffin's nomination and replacing him with a Big Labor-vetted pick.

Some labor officials were nevertheless upset over the loss of Griffin from the NLRB. The following month, Obama nominated him to replace NLRB acting general counsel Lafe Solomon.

That may seem like demotion, but it is powerful position on the board too since the general counsel can act independently to issue complaints, among other actions.

It was Solomon, for example, not the NLRB members, who initiated the boards controversial complaint against Boeing for opening a factory in right-to-work South Carolina.

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