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NLRB Fight Begins Anew (Read More…)

By Kris Maher
March 29, 2010,

No sooner did President Barack Obama exercise his recess-appointment powers to put labor lawyer Craig Becker into a seat at the National Labor Relations Board than a group that has challenged unions said it will ask Becker to recuse himself from 12 pending cases before the board.

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation said Becker, who has served as counsel for the Service Employees International Union and the AFL-CIO, should not hear cases in which the foundation is providing legal aid to workers, because Becker directly opposed the group while serving as counsel for the SEIU and because his prior writings demonstrate a bias against the group.

“We just don’t think he’s going to be able to impartially adjudicate cases involving the Foundation’s attorneys,” said Nick Cote, a spokesman for the group. He cited several writings, including a 2005 article that Becker co-wrote in the Berkeley Journal of Employment and Labor Law in which the foundation is referred to as “funded by the most anti-union fringe of the employer community.”

Becker’s nomination was strongly opposed by business groups, and had been held up in the Senate. Obama appointed him over the weekend during the congressional recess, thus avoiding Senate confirmation. Another union-favored lawyer, Mark Pearce, was also appointed to the board, which now has three Democratic members and one Republican member. One Republican seat on the five-member board remains vacant.

Other groups could follow with their own recusal efforts against Becker. A labor policy official from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which also opposed Becker’s appointment, said the group would evaluate whether to ask Becker to recuse himself “on a case by case basis.”

An NLRB spokeswoman did not have an immediate comment on what type of cases Becker could be required to recuse himself from.

Several of the 12 cases cited by the National Right to Work group involve the card-check method of union organizing. Two cases involve a 2007 precedent-setting labor board decision in a case known as Dana Corp. In that decision, the board ruled that workers can seek an election to decertify a union within 45 days of an employer recognizing a union via card check.

Earlier this month, AFL-CIO officials said overturning the Dana decision is a priority. The Dana ruling weakens the card-check method, which currently requires approval by an employer. Unions prefer the card check method, which requires workers to sign cards rather than vote in secret ballot elections.

Posted by Admin on 03/29 at 03:38 PM