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U.S. Chamber challenges Obama's labor appointees

By Alexandra Alper

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Chamber of Commerce filed a motion on Thursday to challenge President Barack Obama's recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board.

Obama set off a furor in January when he bypassed Congress and installed nominees into politically sensitive jobs at the NLRB and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Critics contend the recess appointments were possibly illegal because they were made while the Senate was still technically in session.

On Thursday, the chamber followed through on January promises to consider legal action.

It asked a Court of Appeals to add the recess appointment challenge to a case brought by Noel Canning, a small bottling company in Washington state, to appeal an NLRB ruling against it over pay negotiations.

The case provides a vehicle for the Chamber to make a larger legal argument that Obama's appointments violate the Senate's constitutional right to review board candidates.

"Appointing three of five members to the NLRB in a legally questionable way casts doubt on the work of the entire agency," said Thomas Donohue, president and chief executive of the Chamber.

The NLRB did not immediately respond to a request for comment. White House officials could not immediately be reached.

Earlier this month, a federal judge denied a similar challenge to the NLRB appointments brought by the National Federation of Independent Business, a small business lobbying group.

The NFIB joined an unrelated suit over an NLRB rule requiring employers to display a poster explaining workers' rights to unionize, but the judge chastised the plaintiffs for trying to "shoehorn" a political dispute into the case and refused to consider the issue.

(Reporting By Alexandra Alper; Editing by Tim Dobbyn and Carol Bishopric)