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Obama taps labor board member to be its top prosecutor

By Amanda Becker

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama has nominated Richard Griffin to be the top prosecutor at the National Labor Relations Board in a move that could strain a recent accord in the U.S. Senate about taking action on many long-stalled White House nominations.

The nomination of Griffin, an outgoing NLRB board member, to be its general counsel will likely prove unpopular with Republicans, who balked when Obama re-nominated Griffin for another term on the board.

Obama's withdrawal of Griffin's nomination, along with that of fellow current board member Sharon Block, was crucial to the bipartisan deal that resulted in Senate confirmation earlier this week of the first full slate of board members in a decade.

Griffin and Block were appointed by the president to the NLRB in January 2012 when the Senate was technically in session but not conducting business.

Republican lawmakers have questioned why the two board members have continued making case decisions after an appeals court in January 2013 invalidated their installation. The U.S. Supreme Court is slated to hear the Obama administration's appeal in that case during the term that starts in October.

The five-member board makes the ultimate case determinations at the NLRB, which oversees union elections and polices unfair labor practices. The general counsel also plays a critical role, investigating alleged labor violations and deciding which cases should be prosecuted.

The president named Lafe Solomon acting general counsel in June 2010, but he has never been confirmed by the Senate.

Obama's nomination of Griffin as general counsel was announced on whitehouse.gov.

(Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Mohammad Zargham)

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