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Supreme Court declines Cablevision stay request

By Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday declined a Cablevision Systems Corp request seeking a stay of National Labor Relations Board proceedings in light of a recent court action related to presidential appointments to the board.

The company wanted a stay after the court decided last week to hear a case that challenges three of President Barack Obama's appointments to the board, which has cast into doubt whether it had a quorum to conduct business. The stay application was denied without comment by Chief Justice John Roberts.

The case the justices will hear in the court's next term, starting in October, concerns the ability of the president to make appointments without Senate approval.

So-called recess appointments have been increasingly used over the past several decades by presidents from both major political parties. They are used to appoint a candidate who would likely have trouble winning U.S. Senate confirmation.

The Cablevision dispute was prompted by a complaint issued by an NLRB regional director in the case alleges that Cablevision refused to engage in meaningful bargaining, offered non-unionized workers financial incentives that were not given to a small group in Brooklyn that is represented by the Communications Workers of America and discharged pro-union employees.

A small number of the company's cable installers voted to unionize in January 2012. Cablevision and the union have been arguing over the issue before the board ever since.

Cablevision says that the NLRB blocked an employee vote on whether they still wanted to be represented by the union.

The company said in its court filing that the board has forced the company "to face groundless allegations of unlawful conduct."

If the chief justice had granted the stay, it would likely have prompted other companies involved in NLRB proceedings to make similar applications.

Referring to the NLRB appointments, Cablevision spokeswoman Sarah Chaikin said in a statement that the Obama administration "bypassed Congress in order to stack the NLRB in favor of Big Labor."

Although the chief justice rejected the stay application, the company said it is confident the Supreme Court will find in the case it has agreed to hear that the appointments were invalid, which "will put a stop to the NLRB's evasion of the law."

Bob Master of the Communications Workers of America said in a statement that the Cablevision employees "remain willing to negotiate a fair contract, which would cost the company less than all the lawyers they are hiring to bust the union."

As of mid-June, the federal appeals court in Washington has temporarily put on hold 53 NLRB-related cases, pending the outcome of the Supreme Court case.

On June 28, the appeals court rejected an earlier stay request made by Cablevision. That court's reluctance to step in may indicate that the judges are unwilling to find that actions carried out by administrative law judges and others working under the board's authority are invalidated, even if the board itself did not have a quorum.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Additional reporting by Amanda Becker; Editing by Howard Goller, Will Dunham and Stacey Joyce)

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