The Senate confirmed five nominees to the U.S. labor board, bringing to an end a stalemate that had threatened to shut down the board as soon as next month.
In separate 54-44 votes today, the Senate confirmed Democrats Nancy Schiffer, a former AFL-CIO associate general counsel, and Kent Hirozawa, chief lawyer for the board’s Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce. Nominees Phil Miscimarra and Harry Johnson, lawyers who represent management in labor disputes, were confirmed by voice vote to fill two Republican seats vacant since December. Pearce was confirmed 59-38 to a second term.
All five seats will be filled for first time since President Barack Obama took office.
The votes to fill the seats “will revitalize our commitment to protect the rights of American employers and employees,” Pearce said in a statement after the vote.
Obama agreed this month to drop the two Democrats he appointed without Senate confirmation in 2012, substituting Hirozawa and Schiffer. The swap helped end a stalemate and allowed confirmation of stalled nominees to other administration posts.
The actions of the five-member board have been in question since January, when a federal appeals court in Washington ruled Obama’s appointments to the board were unconstitutional because the Senate wasn’t in a recess. More than 100 challenges of board decisions are pending in courts citing the appeals court ruling, board spokesman Gregory King said.
Schiffer from 2000 to 2012 was general counsel for the AFL-CIO, the federation led by Richard Trumka that represents 57 labor unions with 12 million members. Schiffer also worked for the United Auto Workers Union.
Hirozawa worked at the labor board from 1984 to 1986 as an attorney in the region that includes New York City. Hirozawa then was a partner in the New York law firm Gladstein, Reif and Meginniss LLP, which “is organized around the principal that workers and their organizations deserve top-quality legal representation just as much as corporations,” according to its website. He returned to the board in 2010 a counsel to Pearce.
Johnson is a lawyer with Arent Fox LLP in Los Angeles who practices management-side labor and employment law. Miscimarra is a partner in the labor and employment group of Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP, in Chicago.
Miscimarra, invited to testify before a House panel in South Carolina on June 17, 2011, criticized the board’s acting general counsel, Lafe Solomon, for issuing a complaint against Boeing Co. (BA:US) in an unfair labor practice case tied to building a factory in South Carolina, a state where laws forbid collective bargaining agreements that require union membership.
The board on Dec. 9, 2011, withdrew the complaint after Boeing reached an agreement with the International Association of Machinists, which had asked the board to get involved.
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