How Much Did NLRB Member Know About Labor Crime Wave?

An illegitimate NLRB appointment is preventing the Senate from discovering how much he knew about illegal union activity. The irony is rich.

NLRB member Richard Griffin, whose appointment to the board bypassed the Senate through a recess appointment (even though the Senate was not in recess), is the former chief counsel for the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE). During his time at IUOE, a variety of union members were convicted of crimes ranging from tax evasion, connections to the mob, embezzlement, forgery and fraud.

Did Griffin know about these criminal activities? What actions did he take to deal with law breaking in the IUOE? Why did President Obama appoint a man to the federal body interpreting labor law whose own union is riddled with criminals?

These are the sort of questions that would normally be asked during Senate confirmation hearings. But because of President Obama’s illegal recess appointment, Griffin didn’t have to answer the legitimate concerns many U.S. Senators have about him.

Sen. Orrin Hatch is one of those senators. Because he was unable to question Mr. Griffin at a confirmation hearing, he instead sent a letter. Among various questions in the letter: What was your connection to various union members convicted of crimes?

As Sen. Hatch notes, there’s no evidence that Griffin directly represented those who broke the law. But as the general counsel of a union where criminal activity was apparently rampant, it does raise questions about Griffin’s attitude and actions toward those on the union payroll breaking the law.

If President Obama would have followed the law and allowed Griffin to go through the normal Senate confirmation procedure, we could have answers to these questions. But he didn’t. And now we have the former general counsel from a union riddled with lawbreakers making determinations about how to apply federal labor laws. It’s an amazing situation that should strike fear into the heart of every worker and business owner.

The American people deserve to know what Richard Griffin knew about the illegal activities of IUOE workers and what he did to stop them. If he can’t answer these questions, he shouldn’t be on the NLRB.

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