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Good evening, Daily Kos readers. This is your afternoon open thread to discuss all things Hill-related. Use this thread to praise or bash Congresscritters, share a juicy tip, ask questions, offer critiques and suggestions, or post manifestos.

We have weird schedules this week, both of us.

This is an open source project, so feel free to add your own insights. Here's the news I found lurking around the Internets...


You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).

Last night on the end of PBS News Hour I heard an item related to a labor dispute at a bauxite mine located in the valley between the one in which I lived in California and Death Valley Monument.

In a surprising turn of events, four employees of British-Australian mining firm Rio Tinto pleaded guilty Monday to taking bribes during annual negotiations over iron ore prices in China, according to lawyers and an Australian diplomat.
The mining company locked out the workers who belong to the International Longshoremen and Warehouse Local 30.
In the name of "flexibility" the company wanted the old contract gone. Cuts in holiday and other leave, conversion to part-time positions, involuntary overtime, and a promise to be exempt from the law. The company wants to a free hand if workers file grievances against the company with the National Labor Relations Board. The union unanimously rejected the new contract. And guess what the company's next move was?
As reported by "The Nation, the company brought in scabs.
The Gettier mercenaries wore sneers and dark glasses as they pushed their convoy past a crowd of angry Local 30 members
Lets go to the calendar

By Michelle Haynes, Executive Clerk
Wednesday, March 23, 2010

* 493 733 Brian Hayes, of Massachusetts, to be a Member of the National Labor Relations Board for the term of five years expiring December 16, 2012, vice Robert J. Battista, term expired. Oct 21, 2009 Reported by Mr. Harkin, Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions,  without printed report.
* 494 734 Mark Gaston Pearce, of New York, to be a Member of the National Labor Relations Board for the term of five years expiring August 27, 2013, vice Peter N. Kirsanow. Oct 21, 2009 Reported by Mr. Harkin, Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, without printed report.
688 1351 Craig Becker, of Illinois, to be a Member of the National Labor Relations Board for the term of five years expiring December 16, 2014, vice Dennis P. Walsh. Feb 04, 2010 Reported by Mr. Harkin, Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, without printed report.
So it looks like to me that back in December 2007 the NLRB lost its third member, right after the Bush appointee testified about recent decisions in front of a Joint Subcommittee:
Hearing - The National Labor Relations Board: Recent Decisions and Their Impact on Workers’ Rights

Oral Statement of Robert J. Battista, Chairman, National Labor Relations Board

Chairwoman Murray, Ranking Member Isakson, Chairman Andrews and Ranking Member Kline, and Members of the Subcommittees:
Once again, the fundamental principle of the Act is to provide for employee free choice, allowing employees to decide for themselves whether or not to be represented by a union or otherwise to act concertedly in dealing with their employer.

If employees exercise their right of free choice in favor of union representation, the policy of the Act, and the responsibility of the Board, is to encourage collective bargaining by making sure that unions as well as employers bargain in good faith, . . .

Today, Tuesday, a case was argued at the Supreme Court that brought Article I and Article II and Article II together into the black hole of infinite gravity, located some in The Village.
Federal appellate courts have split on whether a short-staffed board could keep working, with the court in Washington saying that a two-person board is illegal and judges in Chicago and Boston saying that the delegation of authority to the smaller group was OK.

Opponents say all the decisions the two board members have made are illegal because the board needs at least three members for a quorum. "One of the things that we think is clear is that the remedy for fixing an undersized board is not for the board to redefine itself ... but for Congress or the president to act," said lawyer Sheldon E. Richie, who represented New Process Steel, L.P., which lost an unfair labor practices case in front of the short-staffed NLRB.

But government lawyers said the full board legally voted to give all of its power to the two members, and the decisions made since then are legal. NLRB Chair Wilma Liebman, a Democrat, and fellow board member Peter Schaumber, a Republican, have issued about 586 decisions as a two-member board.

The NLRB arose out of the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, signed by Franklin Roosevelt and was to safeguard that legal right of self-organization of employees in industry for the purpose of collective bargaining. The Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 and the Landrum-Griffin Act of 1959 amended the original Wagner Act. Those are refereed to as "right to work laws" by proponents of duality rather than the three legged stool of labor, management and the power of the collective.

Back in the second week of February

National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Nominee Craig Becker needed 60 Senate votes to overcome the Republican-led filibuster blocking his confirmation, but he only received 52 votes on Tuesday. Two Democrats, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (Ark.) and Ben Nelson (Neb.), went against their party to vote him down in the cloture vote, which failed 52-33.
It is not clear why Senate Majority Leader Reid pushed the cloture vote when he knew last week that it would fail after Senators Enzi (R. Wyo.) and Murkowski (R. Alaska) of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee changed their votes to oppose Becker’s nomination.
So here we are. A mining company is not willing to bargain with the existing worker's representative almost two months. Senators have not willing to proceed with the Advise and Consent Role as written the Constitution for those they delegated to enforce the law for over two years. The politics of a President using the power of the office to fill vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate is part of this desert saga.

Remember one of the concessions that Rio Tinto wanted was freedom from NLRB actions. The Robert's Supreme Court has a pattern of issuing it's last decision of the term on the last full week of in June, the 63rd anniversary of the Taft-Hartley Act, but the country may know its opinion about the nature of quorums before that.

Anyone remember all the questions about Taft-Hartley and Employee Free Choice during Secretary Solis's confirmation hearing? One has been law for six decades. The other one is one of many bills that have seen an ignominious death in the Senate.

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to CA Berkeley WV on Tue Mar 23, 2010 at 08:58 PM PDT.

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