Senate Confirms Labor Board Nominees

August 1, 2013
By Larry Cary

With this week’s confirmation by the U.S. Senate of all five of President Obama’s nominees to the National Labor Relations Board, the Labor Board has a full complement of confirmed members for the first time in a decade.  Republican resistance to President Obama’s nominees was finally overcome when Senate Democrats threatened to change the Senate’s rules and permit confirmations by majority vote rather than the 60 now presently required.  Additionally, President Obama agreed to withdraw two of his original nominees.

Three Democrats and two Republicans were confirmed. They are: Current NLRB Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce (Democratic) was confirmed for a new five year term after his current term expires.  Perce is a long term Labor Board employee having worked in the Buffalo Region of the NLRB before practicing labor law on behalf of unions and employees.

Kent Hirozawa (Democratic) was elevated from his position as the NLRB’s Chief Staff Counsel to the Chairman to a spot on the Labor Board itself.  Hirozawa began his legal career as an Attorney for the Labor Board in New York and then worked as a labor lawyer for 20 years in private practice representing unions and employees before becoming staff counsel.

Nancy Schiffer (Democratic) will be leaving her position as Associate General Counsel for the AFL-CIO.  She started her legal career working for the NLRB in Detroit.  She then entered private practice with a union side labor law firm before joining the legal department of the United Automobile Workers. She is on the advisory board of the Peggy Browning Fund.

Philip A. Miscimarra (Republican) practices labor and employment law as a partner in a Chicago management-side law firm located in Chicago.  Miscimarra has written several books on labor law topics and is a senior fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, where he is a managing director of the Wharton Center for Human Resources Research Advisory Group.

Harry I. Johnson III (Republican) will be leaving is position as a partner in a Los Angeles management-side law firm where he has represented employers in all areas of labor and employment law.

There was some urgency in getting the Labor Board nominees confirmed as three U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals have ruled that President Obama’s 2012 recess appointments to the Board were constitutionally invalid.  This threatened the ability of the Labor Board to decide cases.  The Supreme Court and will decide the constitutionality of President Obama’s appointments next year. 

Larry Cary is a partner at the New York City law firm of Cary Kane LLP.  


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