CHICAGO (Legal Newsline) - Four workers filed a brief Tuesday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago challenging President Barack Obama's recent recess appointees to the National Labor Relations Board.
David Yost and Ronald Echegaray of Morgantown, W.Va., Doug Richards of Ligonier, Ind., and John Lugoof of Chicago filed the brief with free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation.
The two cases - Richards, Yost, & Echegaray v. Steelworkers and Lugo v. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers - were consolidated for hearing before the appeals court.
The NLRB ruled in favor of the workers in both cases. It determined that union officials interfered with the workers' right to refrain from formal union membership by requiring them to "annually renew" their objections to paying full union dues.
But in both cases, the NLRB only applied their ruling prospectively to the workers involved in the cases and not retroactively to all workers who have objected in the past to paying full union dues to the respective unions.
NRTW attorneys appealed the Board's decisions to apply its remedy only prospectively, and also challenged Obama's move to install three members on the NLRB as "recess appointees" in January despite, Republicans say, the U.S. Senate not being in recess.
They argue that the appointments are unconstitutional and, therefore, the NLRB lacks the quorum necessary to hear any cases. If Obama's NLRB appointments are unconstitutional, then the Board has only two valid members and lacks a quorum to enact rules or enforce federal labor law under U.S. Supreme Court precedent established in 2010.
The workers' cases are among the first in the nation to reach the appellate courts with this issue. They will help set the standard for all further challenges.
"Barack Obama's so-called recess appointments to the Labor Board clearly violate the U.S. Constitution," said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. "Because the Board does not have a legitimate quorum, it must cease handing down rulings in Foundation-supported cases until a legitimate quorum is established."