A divided U.S. Senate confirmed President Obama’s nomination of Richard Griffin, Jr., to serve as the NLRB’s General Counsel, positioning the former union lawyer with the power to decide when to investigate and prosecute companies charged with unfair labor practices.

The Senate approved Griffin mainly along party lines by a vote of 55-44, highlighting the political division resulting from his nomination.  Indeed, Republican Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee revealed his disappointment stating “I’m concerned about the direction of the NLRB as an advocate more than an umpire.  I do not believe [Griffin’s] presence as General Counsel will improve the situation.”  While Democratic Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa welcomed Griffin’s appointment trumpeting, “Mr. Griffin is exceptionally well qualified.  I have no doubt he will do an outstanding job of enforcing our nation’s labor laws for workers, unions and employers.”

Griffin, will serve a four-year term, remaining in place after the 2016 elections.   When Griffin is sworn in, it will be the first time in ten years that there are five NLRB board members and a General Counsel all confirmed by the Senate for full terms.

As noted here, Griffin previously served for a year on the NLRB as one of three President Obama recess appointments.  Before that, he was General Counsel for International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE).  He also served on the board of directors for the AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating Committee.