The pace of nominations and appointments to the Department of Labor, National Labor Relations Board, and other federal labor agencies is expected to continue to accelerate. Following the nominations earlier this week of Marvin Kaplan to the NLRB and Patrick Pizzella to be the Deputy Secretary of Labor, the White House announced the nomination ofKyle Fortson to a seat on the National Mediation Board and that Nathan Paul Mehrens would serve as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary (and thereby Acting Assistant Secretary) for Policy at DOL. Fortson previously served as a top labor staffer for the Republicans on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Mehrens was previously the president of Americans for Limited Government. Still expected in the very near future is the nomination of management lawyer, William Emanuel to the NLRB, the first Assistant Secretary-level nominations at the Department of Labor and more appointments to political positions that don’t need Senate confirmation, such as the principal deputy assistant secretary slots at DOL.
One interesting development on the nominations front is the revival of concerns about Patrick Pizzella’s ties to Jack Abramoff’s work in the Northern Mariana Islands in the late 1990’s on behalf of employers accused of serious human rights violations. The conditions for workers in the Northern Mariana Island – making goods sold as “Made in the USA” – were appalling. Ms. Magazine did a cover story on the Abramoff/Mariana Islands situation in 2006. Although Pizzella was confirmed for a Republican seat on the FLRA during the Obama Administration after the Abramoff story broke, the Deputy Secretary position is the most senior position for which he has been nominated. The Deputy Secretary has responsibility across all of DOL and frequently stands in for the Secretary of Labor. Pizzella’s Abramoff ties may get more scrutiny in this confirmation process than in the past.