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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.”

Recess Raises Specter of Obama Labor Move to Business Groups (Read More…)

By Holly Rosenkrantz

March 26 (Bloomberg)—U.S. business groups and Republican lawmakers are stepping up efforts to ward off a labor appointment by President Barack Obama that might trigger a surge in union organizing efforts.

Obama may appoint union lawyer Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board after Congress leaves this week for a scheduled Easter recess, a step that would circumvent the need for Senate confirmation. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis told the AFL-CIO, the largest U.S. union organization, in a speech March 3 that it “will be very pleased” by what Obama was planning.

Becker would be the second Democrat and third member of the five-seat board, providing a quorum to clear a backlog of more than 210 cases. Among them are disputes with casino owner MGM Mirage and auto parts maker Dana Holding Corp. The Democratic majority may adopt policies helping unions to recruit while limiting employers, according to the National Association of Manufacturers.

“You will see a radical overhaul of the labor law system,” said Keith Smith, director of employment and labor policy at the Washington-based industry group. “You could see significant limits on employers’ ability to communicate.”

Organizations including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce wrote Obama a letter on March 23 urging him not to appoint Becker, a lawyer representing the AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union, while Congress is away.

All 41 Republican senators made the same plea yesterday in a letter to Obama. Presidents have executive powers to bypass the Senate and make appointments during recesses, for limited terms.


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