US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions

Alexander Votes Against Obama NLRB Nominees With “Pro-Union Advocacy Past”

Says labor board has become too partisan, wasting taxpayer dollars and harming workers and employers

Wednesday, July 24, 2013Liz Wolgemuth 202-228-4729

WASHINGTON, July 24—The senior Republican on the U.S. Senate committee overseeing labor policy today voted against President Obama’s two labor board nominees, citing their history of work as advocates for labor unions.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R. Tenn.) said:  “My primary concern is the ability of these two to set aside their pro-union advocacy past and act as neutral arbiters between employees and employers, so those parties can trust them to fairly adjudicate labor disputes. Will they be judges and not advocates? That is what the National Labor Relations Act requires.  So far, my concerns haven’t been lessened.”

Alexander added: “This administration has been pushing the NLRB further and further toward the side of union advocacy, rather than fair adjudication. From ambush elections to micro-unions, the Obama board has given us plenty of reasons to question its impartiality. Instead of furthering and deepening the partisan swings at the NLRB, I would hope to see this trend stopped in its tracks.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee voted 13-9 to send the two nominees, Kent Hirozawa and Nancy Schiffer, to the floor for consideration by the full Senate.

Alexander said: “I will not vote to report these two nominees favorably out of committee, but I will not support any efforts to delay their consideration on the floor. The nominees will have an up or down vote, whenever the leadership schedules the vote and that probably will be next week.”

Alexander’s full statement is below:

Today we are voting on the nominations of Mr. Hirozawa and Ms. Schiffer for the National Labor Relations Board.

We have been reviewing the writings and records of these individuals since they were both nominated last week. We’ve had a chance to ask some questions at yesterday’s hearing. Both have submitted the required committee application and ethics forms that all nominees provide.

Several Senators, including myself, have asked follow up written questions. We have not yet received responses to those questions but we expect them this week, which would be prior to floor consideration of the nominations, which I expect to be scheduled next week. 

Both of these nominees have strong professional backgrounds – there is no question about that—but as I made clear at yesterday’s hearing, my primary concern is the ability of the two to set aside their pro-union advocacy past and act as neutral arbiters between employees and employers, so those parties can trust them to fairly adjudicate labor disputes. Will they be judges and not advocates?That is what the National Labor Relations Act requires. 

So far, my concerns haven’t been lessened. As the NLRB has become more and more partisan in recent decades – and the Chairman has noticed this and we’re not saying that this is one sided either—but it seems to have become that way. Policy reversals and dramatic shifts are becoming a regular expectation with each new administration. That’s not good for unions, employees, or employers, and certainly not a good use of taxpayer resources.

Yesterday I asked Ms. Schiffer how many NLRB Members had gone straight from union employment to board member.  She couldn’t think of any such nominees before those from the current administration, and nor can I. President Obama nominated two individuals straight out of a union, before Ms. Schiffer - Craig Becker from AFL-CIO and Richard Griffin, from the International Union of Operating Engineers.   Neither of these nominees achieved Senate confirmation.

This administration has been pushing the NLRB further and further toward the side of union advocacy, rather than fair adjudication. From ambush elections to micro-unions, the Obama board has given us plenty of reasons to question its impartiality.  

Instead of furthering and deepening the partisan swings at the NLRB, I would hope to see this trend stopped in its tracks. 

For this reason, I will not vote to report these two nominees favorably out of committee, but I will not support any effort to delay their consideration on the floor.

The nominees will have an up or down vote, whenever the leadership schedules the vote and that probably will be next week. 

If we have a fully confirmed board in place in the near future, I would hope its members would keep their statutory mandate “to prescribe the legitimate rights of both employees and employers in their relations affecting commerce” and “to provide orderly and peaceful procedures for preventing the interference by either with the legitimate rights of the other” more closely in mind. 

I thank the Chairman.

# # #

 

     

More Press from the Ranking Member