Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Woo-hoo! Obama names NLRB members, consumer protection chief

Good news for working families! President Obama today named four people to vacant government posts that anti-worker politicians in Congress wanted to stay vacant. Because the House and Senate are in recess, Obama has the constitutional authority to appoint people without lawmakers' approval. Hah!

He named three people to the National Labor Relations Board, making sure the board functions to protect workers' rights to organize. ThinkProgress has a good explainer:
...Republicans have spent the past year blocking nominations to the NLRB in an effort to keep the agency from functioning. Those efforts would have paid off soon, since after Craig Becker’s term on the board expired this week, the NLRB would have been reduced to two members, which is the number it had for more than two years from 2008 to 2010. This effectively shuts down the board, since the Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that two members does not constitute a legal quorum, and thus, a two-member board can’t make binding rulings.
Ohio Teamsters should be especially pleased with the appointment of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau because he did such a great job there as attorney general.  Here's what Cordray himself had to say about the CFPB in the Huffington Post today:
...without a director, ... we lacked the ability to supervise financial institutions other than big banks -- like nonbank mortgage lenders and servicers, and payday lenders. Many of these institutions had no regular federal oversight in the run up to the financial crisis. They led a race to the bottom that pushed aside responsible businesses, including community banks and credit unions, and greatly harmed consumers.
I am pleased to say that we will now be able to exercise the full authorities granted to us under the law and begin to supervise these nonbanks. Standing up this program is a top priority for the CFPB.
And here's what Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa had to say:

There can’t be any doubt which side President Obama is on after the recess appointments he made today. He stood up to Republicans in Congress who hate the idea of consumer protections and fairness in the workplace. They’ve tried everything they could think of to destroy the NLRB and to prevent the CFPB from functioning, including blocking appointments. President Obama made the right decision on behalf of the American people by bypassing obstructionists in the Senate.
Richard Cordray is a solid public official who has done much to protect Ohio’s retirees, investors and business owners from financial fraud. Richard Griffin, as general counsel for the International Union of Operating Engineers, is a strong choice for the NLRB. Sharon Block, currently deputy assistant secretary for congressional affairs at the Labor Department, has worked for the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, a great protector of workers’ rights.
And the appointment of Terrence Flynn, the Republican nominee to the NLRB, shows the president’s determination to rise above petty partisan politics.