The National Labor Relations Board, plagued by years of vacancies, enjoyed just a brief two months at full strength this summer before losing another member with the departure last week of Peter Schaumber.
Schaumber’s second term on the board expired Aug. 27. The board’s membership now drops from five to four: three Democrats and one Republican.
Schaumber and Board Chair Wilma Liebman were the only members for 27 months—a situation which led to numerous lawsuits challenging whether two members were a quorum for deciding labor cases. The Supreme Court in New Process Steel v. NLRB ruled in June that federal labor law required a quorum of three. That decision potentially put at risk roughly 600 rulings by the two-member board.
Schaumber, nominated by President George W. Bush, first took his seat on the board in December 2002. He served as chairman from April 2008 until January 2009. Schaumber began his legal career as an assistant corporation counsel for the District of Columbia. He subsequently was appointed assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia and served in that office's Criminal and Civil divisions. After leaving that office, he became senior trial attorney and associate director of a law department division in the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
Schaumber said in a statement that it was his “good fortune” to have served with Liebman during the 27-months when they were the entire board.
“Our shared commitment to collaboration and the agency’s mission enabled us to process scores of cases to resolution, despite our ideological differences,” he said. “While the Supreme Court ultimately determined that a three-member quorum is necessary to issue decisions, Chairman Liebman and I set a tone for collegiality and dedication to case processing that I hope will carry forward to future boards.”
During a farewell ceremony last week, Liebman called Schaumber’s chairmanship “his finest hour.”
Schaumber, a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, said he has no immediate plans. “I look forward to taking time off to spend with family, then returning to work in traditional labor law, government affairs and the legislative arena.”
Besides Liebman, a Clinton appointee, the board now consists of three appointees by President Barack Obama: Democrat Craig Becker, a recess appointee who can serve until December 2011; Democrat Mark Pearce, serving until August 2013, and Republican Brian Hayes, serving until December 2012.