President Barack Obama on Tuesday nominated two new members to the National Labor Relations Board and renominated Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce for a new five-year term.
The nominations, which require Senate confirmation, come amid uncertainty about the board's authority after a federal appeals court in January invalidated the appointments of two of its current members.
In addition to Pearce, whose current term ends in August, Obama said he was naming Harry Johnson and Philip Miscimarra. The two are both employment attorneys who represent companies, balancing the board's three existing members, who have union or Democratic backgrounds.
The Senate will now have five board nominations to consider, after Obama in February asked the chamber to confirm Sharon Block and Richard Griffin, to end any doubt about the legitimacy of their appointments.
"I urge the Senate to confirm them swiftly so that this bipartisan board can continue its important work on behalf of the American people," Obama said in a statement.
The board, an independent federal agency that oversees union elections and polices unfair labor practices, needs a quorum of three of its five board members in order to make decisions and take other actions. The members serve staggered five-year terms, and Pearce's next term would end in 2018.
Earlier this year, the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Obama's appointments of Block and Griffin in January 2012 were invalid. The president had acted under his authority to appoint officials without Senate confirmation when the chamber is in recess, but the court ruled that the chamber was not in recess at the time of the appointments.
Without Block and Griffin, along with two board vacancies, the ruling cast doubt on more than 600 decisions the board has made since their appointment. At least 35 cases involving the NLRB are now on hold in the D.C. Circuit while the board appeals the case and challenges to the NLRB's authority have been made in at least 73 cases pending in federal appeals courts, according to records kept by the board.
Pearce has been the board's chairman since August 2011 and a member of the NLRB since March 2010. He was a partner at the law firm Creighton, Pearce, Johnsen & Giroux from 2002 to 2010, where he represented unions.
Johnson is currently a partner at Arent Fox in Los Angeles, where he represents companies in employment cases.
Miscimarra is a partner at the law firm Morgan, Lewis and Bockius in Chicago. His clients have included the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He is also a senior fellow at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business.
Block is a former labor counsel to Senator Edward Kennedy and Griffin is a former general counsel for the International Union of Operating Engineers.
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