Marc Ambinder, political journalist for The Atlantic, just tweeted some exciting news:
Labor getting strong indications from admin that C. Becker will receive recess appt. to NRLB (sic) ; WH is mum.
If true, this would be huge. "C. Becker" refers to Craig Becker, Obama's progressive appointment to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). His nomination has, unsurprisingly, become snarled in the Senate where his appointment was approved by a majority but didn't hit the magical sixty votes needed to overcome the inevitable filibuster. (To be clear, the NLRB is a five member board that is meant to regulate labor law and, when necessary, hold and monitor union elections.)
The appointment is particularly important because the board currently only has two of its five seats filled, seriously impairing its ability to function. It would also be particularly important to labor because friendly appointments to the NLRB and the Labor Department are the most the unions can really expect out of a friendly president, in terms of labor law. (Actual attempts at labor law reform have always been stymied by conservatives of both parties in the Senate.) Unfortunately, none of Obama's NLRB nominees—two Democrats and one Republican—have been approved yet, and the administration has been having some Senate trouble with Labor Department appointees too.
Bush used his NLRB appointments to wreck havoc on the American workforce. It was hoped that Obama's appointees would be able to rescind the more damaging rulings, and institute some new worker-and-union friendly rulings. But the administration has expressed reluctance to go around the Senate, God alone knows why, by appointing Becker and the others during a recess. (The tactic Bush used for seven of his eight NLRB nominations.)
So hopefully Ambinder's info is good. Organized labor has steadfastly supported Obama throughout the campaign and his presidency. It is time he gave a little more back.