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Obama withdraws NLRB nominee opposed by franchisors

President Obama has withdrawn his nomination to the National Labor Relations Board of Sharon Block, a candidate blasted by franchisors and other members of the business community as hostile to their interests. 

Block was one of three appointees the President had put on the NLRB, the source of several recent decisions that drew sharp objections from the restaurant industry, while the Senate was in a pro forma session, a sort of light-duty period.

Traditionally the Senate does not perform key functions like confirming presidential nominees while on pro forma status. The President argued that Congress was technically in recess, and appointments were needed immediately to continue the NLRB’s work.

The action drew outrage, particularly from Republicans. It further stoked the anger of some business groups, who had objected to actions like the NLRB’s alert to McDonald’s that the franchisor could be considered a “joint employer” of franchisees’ staffs. If the NLRB made that ruling permanent, franchisors could be held liable in court to the employment practices of franchisees, an historic change.

Court challenges soon followed the President’s appointments.  Meanwhile, the franchise community organized lobbying blitzes on Congress, urging legislators to use their watchdog function to keep the NLRB within its prescribed duties.

“The withdrawal of the nomination of Sharon Block from the NLRB is a common sense action recognizing she should not be rewarded with an appointment to the board after the Supreme Court of the United States found her recess appointment unconstitutional,” Stephen Caldeira, president and CEO of the International Franchise Association, said of the President’s about-face last week. “ As we said in September, IFA strongly opposed her nomination, warning of an attempt to legitimize her unconstitutional tenure and the devastating impact it would have on small businesses in America due to anti-small business policies.”

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