Meister: Labor's big election loss

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The loss of a filibuster majority in the U.S. Senate is virtually certain to doom attempts to revive the barely functioning National Labor Relations Board

By Dick Meister

(Dick Meister, formerly labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED-TV Newsroom, has covered labor, politics and other matters for a half-century.)

The Senate Democrats loss of a filibuster-proof 60-vote majority seems almost certain to doom attempts to revive the barely functioning National Labor Relations Board, the country’s chief labor law administrator and enforcer.

That, along with its effects on health care reform, is certainly one of the most serious consequences stemming from the election of Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown to the seat formerly held by the late Ted Kennedy.

For more than two years, the five-seat NLRB has limped along with only two members, a Republican appointee of President George W. Bush and a Democratic appointee of President Bill Clinton. The other three seats had been held by Republicans, but were vacated when their five-year terms expired. Democrats, who by then controlled the Senate, refused to confirm the anti-labor Republicans that Bush nominated to replace them.