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The National Labor Relations Board can function once again, thanks to the filibuster deal Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid struck with Sen. John McCain and a number of Republicans not named Mitch McConnell. The Senate confirmed five nominees, three Democrats and two Republicans. Democrats and long-time labor attorneys Kent Hirozawa and Nancy Jean Schiffer were confirmed with votes of 54-44. The third Democrat, Mark Gaston Pierce, is the board's current chairman and was confirmed 59-38. All three Democrats faced cloture votes, per the filibuster agreement, and the Republicans were passed on voice votes.

For the first time in a decade, the board will have five fully confirmed members, and will avoid having to close up shop next month. At the end of August, Pearce's first five-year term would have expired, leaving the board without a quorum and unable to act. A few weeks ago, Laura Clawson gave us a few reasons to care about the NLRB, all workers who are relying upon a functioning NLRB for their jobs (via the AFL-CIO).

1. Dexter Wray, Alaska: Dexter worked as a maintenance engineer at a Sheraton in Anchorage.  His manager pressured him and several of his co-workers to decertify their union and told them to lie to the NLRB.  When they told the truth, Dexter and two of his co-workers were fired.  The NLRB ruled that the firings and coercion were illegal, but the hotel has refused to rehire them.  Dexter didn't work for six months and incurred a large medical debt when he lost his health insurance.

2. Michelle Baricko, Connecticut: Michelle is a certified nursing assistant at West River Health Care.  She and her co-workers were locked out for months during contract negotiations.  The hospital's owner, HealthBridge/CareOne, declared that negotiations were permanently stalled and implemented its own contract, which the employees did not agree to.  The NLRB obtained a court injunction for the company to stop its unfair labor practices, but HealthBridge declared bankruptcy and was able to escape its obligations to the employees. The Board and the employees' union have appealed the decision.  Michelle was forced to sell her home and still struggles to provide for her three sons.

3. Kathleen Von Eitzen, Michigan: Kathleen is a baker at Panera Bread who organized 17 of her coworkers to form a union.  The company fought back, firing one employee and cutting Kathleen's pay, giving her a negative evaluation because of her organizing.  The NLRB found that Panera violated the workers' rights and ordered the company to pay back and compensate employees for cutting their hours. Panera appealed and the case is now stalled in federal court.  Kathleen's husband has had two heart attacks and can't work full time.  They can't afford insurance because of her low pay and their home is now in foreclosure.

Now how hard was that, Senate? Doesn't it feel good to actually accomplish something? Think maybe you can break through a few more hurdles and make this a habit?

Yeah, right. Tell your Democratic senators to keep filibuster reform moving, and to bring back the talking filibuster.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 03:22 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos Labor and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (19+ / 0-)

    "The NSA’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything. [...] There would be no place to hide."--Frank Church

    by Joan McCarter on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 03:22:12 PM PDT

  •  This is a big accomplishment (6+ / 0-)

    and was what the Labor representatives said was their top priority for the summer at Netroots Nation.  Harry Reid gets a lot of criticism. but his hardball tactics forced McCain into caving and rounding up the votes for cloture.

    Now, the NLRB will be fully functioning and workers will have an adjudicatory body to take legitimate work-related disputes to - compared to the situation we faced with effectively no labor laws whatsoever had the Republicans' filibusters succeeded, this is a very good accomplishment.

    Thanks to President Obama, the Iraq War is Over!

    by Viceroy on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 03:34:45 PM PDT

  •  Wow pretty big news, who would have expected this (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP, Viceroy, Patango, jfdunphy, TomFromNJ

    a month ago?

  •  Great news. Contrary to many (9+ / 0-)

    commenters here who condemned Reid for this deal, it held and it will make a big difference in the lives of working people.

    Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

    by TomP on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 03:38:34 PM PDT

    •  Oh don't fret (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      scott5js, SottoVoce, TLS66, TomP

      The boobirds of discontent will be here shortly claiming this is just window dressing and Harry Reid will be capitulating to the Republicans before we can blink.


      Why can't we celebrate any victory without looking for defeat? Are we just condition to expect the worst?

      Spite is the ranch dressing Republicans slather on their salad of racism

      by ontheleftcoast on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 04:13:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not at all (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Patango, jfdunphy

        But I don't plan to hold my breath waiting for Majority Leader Reid to explain why he couldn't have done this a month ago. Or six months ago. Or a year ago. Or any other time in the last 10 years.

        Does he want a ribbon for doing his job at long last? 'Cause I'm fresh out of them, and the number of working citizens denied their due by a non-functioning Labor Board is incalculable.

        •  He doesn't have to explain (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ontheleftcoast, TLS66, TomP

          for anyone who has paid attention for the past couple of years.  He didn't have the fucking votes to threaten the nuclear option.  Everyone knew he had zero leverage.

          Now go be sad somewhere in uninformed land.

          " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

          by gchaucer2 on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 04:27:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  What's interesting is that it took the Republicans (7+ / 0-)

            being bigger assholes than many of the Senate Democrats thought possible for this to happen. Even though we had more Democrats (and I use that term loosely) in the past we didn't have Democrats that were willing to pull the trigger on something like the nuclear option. The brinksmanship that is being played out here is disgusting. But we've been without a fully functioning government for months. I think the Senate Democrats are finally seeing that the Republicans aren't their "esteemed rivals across the aisle" but economic suicide bombers hell-bent on destroying the country if they don't get their way. If Sen. Reid is guilty of anything it was failing to drive that point home to more of his colleagues and getting them to act on it.

            Spite is the ranch dressing Republicans slather on their salad of racism

            by ontheleftcoast on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 04:41:20 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Why were there two Republican nominees? (0+ / 0-)

    Was that part of some deal?

    "Societies strain harder and harder to sustain the decadent opulence of the ruling class, even as it destroys the foundations of productivity and wealth." — Chris Hedges

    by Crider on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 04:05:36 PM PDT

  •  Cue the Ted Cruz temper tantrum (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Patango, Sherri in TX, TomP

    You know he hates it when government accomplishes anything.

  •  MitchBoy...yall be slippin up son. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Patango, TomP
  •  will the obama admin (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Patango, jfdunphy

    allow the nlrb to do its job without interference from its opponents or will the admin cave and backtrack on another promise, the 99% are waiting for an answer.

    •  I knew someone would find something to bitch (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SottoVoce, TomP

      about! good job

    •  I'm sorry you don't have the google (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jfdunphy, TomP
      The National Labor Relations Board is an independent federal agency that protects the rights of private sector employees to join together, with or without a union, to improve their wages and working conditions.
      National Labor Relations Board

      And I know that you await the corrupt Obama Administration to send its secret army in to threaten the members.

      My best friend from law school has been with NLRB for 20 years.  She'd laugh in your face.

      " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

      by gchaucer2 on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 05:02:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well we all know it works both ways (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        While we all know Obama is pro labor , he does not go out and support people like the Fast Food Workers who are on strike

        The NLRB works for republican admins also

        Bush appointed all five current board members, including three Republicans, all of whom were confirmed by the Senate in December of 2002. Their terms are staggered, with one Republican’s appointment expiring in August.

        Already, the NLRB has shocked the labor community with its decision to support a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The business trade group seeks to strike down a California law preventing employers from using tax dollars for anti-union campaigns. The NLRB filed a friend-of-the-court brief backing the Chamber’s position in the appellate court case.

        AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said the decision is “outrageous as it marks a sharp departure from the Board’s primary mission of protecting workers’ rights.”

        Nathan Newman, a lawyer at New York University law school’s Brennan Center for Justice, said it’s “quite remarkable” that the Bush-packed NLRB has taken a hypocritically anti-federalist stance against state law, one that practically mandates corporations to spend government grants and subsidies to fund union-busting.

        Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers

        by Patango on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 06:00:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  i guess all the (0+ / 0-)

        labor gains over the last few decades is where your optimism comes from, rather than laughing in my face how about trying to strengthen the labor movement or is that asking too much.

  •  A sort of court (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Patango, jfdunphy, TomP

    The NLRB is an executive board. But it functions in ways like a court.

    Trying to shut it down is like trying to keep people for being prosecuted for something -- in this case for violations of labor-related laws -- by shutting down a court.

  •  Thanx for reporting this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jfdunphy, TomP

    Joan McCarter and Daily Kos and all

    You Rock

    Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers

    by Patango on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 05:34:15 PM PDT

  •  Meanwhile, back at the sequester (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the Labor Dept feels under pressure to hammer out what are in essence no-fault agreements, where the corporations screw a worker, then hide the evidence the worker needs to prove their case, and the company promises not to sin again---and they continue business as usual. The Justice Dept. has the ability to step up pressure on corporations all on its own, and Eric Holder, from where I sit, walks softly, and doesn't even attempt to lift the big stick that the law gives his office to weild. I remember the days when government lawyers carried some weight--at Justice, SEC, FTC, etc. In this very relaxed regulatory climate, corporations will keep pushing. I see more and more per diem and part time hires, in a business where these workers make important decisions concerning people's health. It is not an encouraging picture.

  •  Senate votes to confirm Obama NLRB nominations (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Good news/bad news. Good news is, the Dems figured out a way to get something past the No Nothing Repubs. Bad news is, the vast majority of organized labor will now breath a sigh of relief and go back to looking for "legal" solutions for what ails them and going back to "business unionism" instead of organizing for power. What did Labor do before the NLRB? They kicked ass and took it to the streets. The labor relations statutes, culminating w/the Taft-Hartley Act, and through them the creation of the NLRB, have de-fanged the labor movement. The sad fact is most of organized labor, with the exception of a handful of progressive, militant unions, don't understand that.

  •  What did labor do before the NLRB? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Before the NLRB, labor generally got its butt kicked repeatedly by the repressive power of the state.  Except for a handful of highly skilled trades that had the leverage to compel employers to the table, the efforts to organize stable, sustainable unions among the masses of working people were almost always unsuccessful.

    That all changed with the passage of the Wagner Act in 1935, which established the NLRB and gave it a very pro-collective bargaining charge.  The change in federal policy provided labor with the political space it needed to allow the mass organizing drives of the 1930s and 1940s to be successful.

    Of course, the passage of Taft-Hartley in 1948 did defang the Wagner Act and made it exceptionally difficult to organize new unions, even in circumstances where labor took a grassroots, bottom-up approach to organizing.

    All of which actually proves the opposite of your point-- the stance of the federal government  toward labor can make a huge difference in the ability of workers to organize for power.

    •  NLRB bastardized (0+ / 0-)

      Joel in Duluth: my points were two-fold -- organized labor is practically dead on the vine b/c it grew too dependent on legal solutions like the NLRA, which created the NLRB, and secondly, that "the law" hasn't helped labor, in fact, it has defanged it by taking the fight out of the streets and into the courtroom, arbitration hearing room, etc., which means labor fights its battles on capital's turf. While nothing is ever black and white, and therefore, there have of course been some benefits to labor by having legal sanction to what it does, (i.e., no more Sherman Anti-Trust Act prosecutions, the "right to exist," etc.), in the long run, the legal solutions have not benefited labor. Labor needs to embrace the organizing model used by its ancestors, go back to the street and stop looking to the NLRB for answers. That doesn't mean Labor should not utilize the NLRB from time to time for strategic purposes beneficial to a larger goal or struggle, but it has got to stop looking to such venues as the be-all-end-all. For Dems or unionists to be ecstatic over getting something as minimal as FINALLY getting a few moderate appointments approved to the virtually ineffectual NLRB is not only NOT cause for ecstasy but in fact, a sign of just how pathetic and down and out the so-called ModDemLeft/Business Union lobby has become in this country.

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