The U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions on October 18 approved the nominations of several labor-related presidential appointees. The appointments included Patrick Pizzella as the deputy secretary at the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), Peter Robb as the general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and Cheryl Stanton to serve as Wage and Hour Division Administrator at DOL, all of which have been much-anticipated nominations.
Filling the deputy secretary position at DOL would give the agency its second Senate-confirmed appointee, providing additional management support for advancing needed reforms. During the George W. Bush administration, Pizzella served as DOL’s assistant secretary for administration and management and therefore has a deep knowledge of the ins and outs of the department.
Committee approval of Peter Robb as general counsel, assuming the full Senate acts quickly, means that there should be minimal delay in filling the position when the current Democratic GC departs on November 4. This is significant because of the general counsel’s considerable influence over what cases the Board will hear and his ability to issue guidance memos to agency staff. Robb’s confirmation would also allow him to revisit some of the zanier aspects of Mr. Griffin’s tenure, such as his tireless crusade against allegedly unlawful workplace policies commonly found in employee handbooks.
The nominee for the administrator of the Wage and Hour Division was also among the appointees approved for a floor vote, which is a positive development given the turmoil caused by the Obama administration’s massive overreach in its overtime rule. Efforts to revise the overtime rule have already begun, but Stanton’s confirmation will provide more direct oversight of the rulemaking process by a top administration appointee.
Other nominees approved by the committee included David Zatezalo to serve as Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health at DOL; Janet Dhillon and Daniel Gade to serve as members of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; Carlos Muniz to serve as the General Counsel for the U.S. Department of Education; and Gerald Fauth III, Kyle Fortson, and Linda Puchala to serve as members of the National Mediation Board.
A confirmation vote for these nominees is expected in the coming weeks, and assuming they are confirmed, it will be a welcome development for those concerned about restoring balance to labor law.