Two veteran labor lawyers will be President Barack Obama's new picks to serve on the National Labor Relations Board as part of an agreement to win confirmation for several of his stalled appointees, two Democratic officials said Tuesday.
Obama intends to nominate Nancy Schiffer, who retired last year as an associate general counsel at the AFL-CIO, and Kent Hirozawa, currently the chief counsel to the NLRB's chairman, said the officials, who disclosed the developments on condition of anonymity because they were not free to speak about the events by name.
The two would replace Richard Griffin and Sharon Block, whom Obama installed as recess appointments that bypassed the Senate. The appointments have been ruled invalid by an appeals court.
Democratic lawmakers are hoping the two can win Senate confirmation by the end of next week, an extraordinary turnaround time for a vetting process that usually takes months. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said there would be a hearing for the two next Tuesday, followed by a committee vote Wednesday. The full Senate would begin taking up the nominees next Thursday, he said.
The move is part of a broader deal that averts a threat by Senate Democrats to change historic rules to make confirmation easier for some nominees. If they are confirmed, along with Mark Pearce, who has been nominated for a new term as NLRB chairman, it would prevent the virtual shutdown of the agency because of a lack of confirmed board members to rule on collective bargaining disputes between unions and companies.
Obama angered Republicans when he bypassed the Senate last year to install Griffin and Block, and they refused to consider the two for permanent appointments. But the new nominees are seen to be just as union-friendly in their outlook, and won praise from the powerful Service Employees International Union and other labor leaders eager to have a fully functioning board.