Obama Makes Recess Appointments to NLRB. Is It Enough for AFL-CIO Endorsement?

by Mike Elk

Mike Elk

Yesterday President Obama made three recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)—Democrats Sharon Block and Richard Griffin, as well as Republican Terry Flynn. Without the apppointments, the federal agency, which mediate labor disputes and oversees union elections, wouldn’t have had a quorum to issue valid rulings. (He also made a much more high-profile appointment of Richard Corday to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in order to make that regulator functional as well.)

The recess appointments come after the NLRB was rendered inoperable due to the expiration of Craig Becker’s term on January 3. That lowered the number of people sitting on the board to two, below the quorum threshold. As I reported, Obama nominated Block and Griffin for the positions last month. (The Senate didn’t confirm the nominees, which were made only a few days before Congress recessed for the holidays.) With the recess appointments, the board will be able to make key decisions that affect American workers.

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The Obama Jobs speech

WASHINGTON - AUGUST 31:  AFL-CIO Secretary-Tre...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

The President took an important and necessary step tonight: he started a serious national conversation about how to solve our jobs crisis.  He showed working people that he is willing to go to the mat to create new jobs on a substantial scale.  Tonight’s speech should energize the nation to come together, work hard and get serious about jobs.

As the President explained, we can no longer delay putting Americans back to work and rebuilding our nation’s schools, roads, bridges, transit, ports, rail, communications and energy systems.  And we need to help state and local governments avoid layoffs that are dragging down the economy—rejecting the pernicious myth that the only way to address Wall Street’s crisis is to punish firefighters, teachers and others who perform critical public services.

We call on Congress to act and look forward to working with the President and Congress on all elements of this proposal. Continue reading

Obama Fails to Defend the NLRB

by Joe Burns

 At his press conference last week, President Obama was given a rare chance to defend the embattled National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the right to strike. A reporter directly questioned the President about the Boeing complaint: “So do you think that the NLRB complaint against Boeing… is an example of the kinds of regulations that chill job growth, and also that you yourself have called ‘just plain dumb.”

In April, the NLRB charged Boeing with violations of labor law for retaliating against Washington state International Association of Machinist members for strike activity. In the words of CEO Jim McNerney, Boeing transferred production of a line of the Dreamliner Aircraft to South Carolina because of “strikes happening every three to four years in Puget Sound.” The case has become a political football, with Republican candidates viewing to outdo each other in denouncing the NLRB.

According to an analysis in the Associated Press, this is an issue the President would love to go away. The Boeing case “has become an unwanted distraction for Obama as he tries to mend relations with the business community and contend with polls that show growing public disapproval over his handling of the economy.” So when directly asked about the case, at first the President attempted to ignore the question.

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Richard Trumka on the Obama tax deal

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka today issued the following statement on the tax cut deal reached between President Obama and congressional Republicans:

Two years ago, working Americans had high hopes that we would ultimately emerge from the deep, punishing financial debacle with a sharp focus on a fundamentally stronger, fairer and more balanced economy.  Today, that vision has dimmed.

The tax cut deal rewards Republican obstructionism by giving the wealthy the tax breaks they demanded.  It throws away precious resources needed for investments in jobs and our economy on upper income tax cuts that will do very little to propel economic growth — setting up excuses for the deficit hypocrites to argue for even more cuts to programs serving working families.  It lards the tax cuts for the top 2 percent with an indefensible cut in the estate tax — giving yet another bonus to the super-rich.  Taken together, this package locks in the growing income inequality that has plagued our country for at least another two years — and quite possibly much longer.

It is unconscionable that the price of support for struggling middle class families and workers who have been unable to find jobs for months and months and months is yet more giveaways for our country’s wealthiest families. Millions of jobless workers have lived in fear for months while Senate Republicans had the gall to use their hardships as political leverage for the benefit of the rich. Continue reading

Obama Administration assaults teachers unions

by Duane Campbell

The federal Department of Education directed by Secretary Arne Duncan has proposed rules for school reform money that would prevent states such as California and New York from receiving funds under the so-called “race to the top,”  a $4.3 billion dollar part of the federal stimulus act.

Secretary Arne Duncan has an enormous fund of money and great flexibility to invest in some schools to reform, particularly in the areas of most failing schools.  However, the rules require states to use student achievement data to rate teachers.  The federal Department of Education has proposed rules to prevent states with such laws from getting money from a $4.3 billion-educational innovation fund. Continue reading

What if the Obama administration treated the auto industry like Wall Street?

by Robert Weissman

robertweissmanWhat if the Obama administration treated the auto industry like Wall Street?

There’d be no talk of potential bankruptcy, no firing of executives, no demands to shed failing subsidiaries, no demands for honest accounting, no insistence that creditors share some of the companies’ pain. And we certainly wouldn’t hear about re-writing contracts, heretofore described as sacrosanct.

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