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Harkin Statement on NLRB, Labor Secretary Nominations

Harkin Statement on NLRB, Labor Secretary Nominations

WASHINGTON—Today, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, released the following statement after Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) filed for cloture on President Obama’s nominations to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and his nominee for Labor Secretary, Thomas Perez. The Senate HELP Committee held confirmation hearings on the five nominees to the NLRB and for Secretary-designate Perez, and the Committee favorably reported the nominations in May 2013.

“I am pleased that the Senate is moving forward to vote on these eminently qualified nominees. Throughout his exemplary career, Thomas Perez has demonstrated professionalism, integrity, and a commitment to public service. As the Senate author of the Americans with Disabilities Act, I have been particularly encouraged by Mr. Perez’s strong leadership on disability rights issues. Given his excellent bona fides, it is no wonder that a bipartisan array of business leaders, elected officials, civil rights leaders, and worker advocates have stepped forward to endorse Mr. Perez’s nomination. The Department of Labor has been without a confirmed secretary since January. Now is the time to confirm Thomas Perez to this critically important post.

“Unless the Senate acts, the NLRB will go dark in August. We cannot allow this to happen. Workers and employers alike rely on the fact that the Board will enforce our labor laws, and enforce contracts between labor and management.  For the thousands of American workers fired every year for trying to organize a union in their workplace, an NLRB out of commission means that those workers would have to wait years before they could get their job back or any back pay for lost wages. From the business perspective, the NLRB also ensures that unions do not step outside the law in their interactions with workers or employers. Perhaps that is why a Senior Counsel to the National Federal of Independent Businesses (NFIB) said that ‘to have the Board totally shut down would be a travesty.’

“I certainly don’t agree with the politics or ideology of every nominee to the NLRB, but it cannot be disputed that they are all highly skilled, competent, and experienced labor or employment law experts.  They all deserve to be confirmed, and that is why I voted in favor of a full slate of nominees in Committee. I urge my colleagues to confirm a full panel of qualified nominees so that the NLRB can get back to the important work of enforcing the law.”