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Recapping the reconstituted NLRB

August 6th, 2013  |  David Stephanides

Now that the NLRB is back to its full complement of five members after much give and take between the Senate and the White House, here’s a brief rundown on each appointee and the span of their individual terms. On August 1, President Obama also nominated former Member Richard Griffin to serves as General Counsel, as detailed below.

Mark Gaston Pearce, Chairman: Democrat. A founding partner of the Buffalo, New York law firm of Creighton, Pearce, Johnsen & Giroux. In 2008, Pearce was appointed by the New York Governor to serve as a Board Member on the New York State Industrial Board of Appeals. From 1979 to 1994, he was an attorney and District Trial Specialist for the NLRB in Buffalo, New York. Pearce received his J.D. from State University of New York, and his B.A. from Cornell University. Pearce initially received a recess appointment set to expire at the end of the Second Session of 111th Congress. On August 27, 2011, President Obama designated Pearce Chairman. Reappointed for a term ending on August 27, 2018.

Nancy Jean Schiffer, Member: Democrat. A former associate general counsel to the AFL-CIO from 2000 to 2012. Prior to working for the AFL-CIO, she was deputy general counsel to the UAW from 1998 to 2000. She had previously worked as associate general counsel for the UAW from 1982 to 1998. Earlier in her career, Schiffer was a staff attorney in the Detroit Regional Office of the National Labor Relations Board and worked as an attorney in private practice. Ms. Schiffer received her B.A. from Michigan State University and her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School. Appointed for a term of five years expiring December 16, 2014, replacing Craig Becker.

Kent Hirozawa, Member: Democrat. Formerly chief counsel to Chairman Pearce. Before joining the NLRB staff in 2010, Hirozawa was a partner in the New York law firm Gladstein, Reif and Meginniss LLP. Hirozawa previously served as a field attorney for the NLRB from 1984 to 1986. He was a pro se law clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit from 1982 to 1984. He received a B.A. from Yale University and a J.D. from New York University School of Law. Appointed for a term of five years expiring August 27, 2016, replacing Wilma B. Liebman.

Harry I. Johnson, III, Member: Republican. Formerly a partner with Arent Fox LLP, a position he has held since 2010. Previously, Johnson worked at Jones Day as partner from 2006 to 2010 and as an associate from 1994 to 2005. In 2011, he was recognized by The Daily Journal as one of the “Top Labor & Employment Attorneys in California.” Johnson received a B.A. from Johns Hopkins University, an M.A.L.D. from Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Appointed for a term of five years expiring August 27, 2015, replacing Terence Francis Flynn.

Philip A. Miscimarra, Member: Republican. Formerly a partner in the Labor and Employment Group of Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP, a position he held since 2005. Since 1997, Miscimarra has been a senior fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School. Miscimarra worked at Seyfarth Shaw LLP as partner from 1990 to 2005 and associate from 1987 to 1989. Miscimarra received a B.A. from Duquesne University, an M.B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, and a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Appointed for a term of five years expiring December 16, 2017, replacing Brian Hayes.

For General Counsel, the nomination of Richard F. Griffin, Jr. has been sent to the Senate. If confirmed, Griffin would serve for a  four-year term, replacing embattled Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon. Griffin saw his nomination to the NLRB withdrawn by the President as part of an eleventh-hour deal with Senate Republicans in the face of their staunch opposition. Griffin, who earned a J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law, was previously general counsel of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE).

A recent lawsuit filed in a federal court in California may cast a shadow over Griffin’s confirmation. The suit charges that Griffin helped to cover up embezzlement at his former union by terminating employees who attempted to expose the alleged embezzlement plot. The complaint, filed by members and officers of Local 501 of the IUOE, alleged numerous violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, and names, among others, the union and Griffin, IUOE’s former general counsel, as defendants.

This is not the first time that Griffin’s involvement with the IUOE has drawn scrutiny from lawmakers. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, sent a letter in July 2012 to Griffin asking about ties to members of union locals convicted of various crimes during his time at the IUOE. In that letter, Hatch asked Griffin for a list of all issues he had worked on while general counsel pertaining to “fraud, embezzlement, or other financial misconduct” by officials at IUOE or its locals.”

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