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Latest News - May 2012

May 22, 2012
Former N.L.R.B. Member Appointed to A.F.L.-C.I.O. Role
Source: The New York Times
By: Steven Greenhouse

Craig Becker, the former embattled member of the National Labor Relations Board, will become co-general counsel of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., the labor federation announced on Tuesday morning.  

Mr. Becker stepped down from the board in December after serving under a recess appointment by President Obama since March 2010. Senate Republicans had previously blocked his confirmation, saying he was too liberal and too pro-union.

Before serving on the N.L.R.B., Mr. Becker had been associate general counsel to both the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and the Service Employees International Union, with those groups sometimes turning to him to write their most important appellate briefs. Since leaving the labor board, he has been a visiting professor at Georgetown University Law School.

In announcing the appointment, Richard Trumka, the president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O, said, “Craig Becker is a brilliant lawyer and creative thinker with deep experience in labor law, litigation and organizing; his combination of legal acumen and experience on the ground is simply unmatched.”

Lynn Rhinehart, the labor federation’s longtime general counsel, will remain co-general counsel along with Mr. Becker.

During his 21 months on the labor relations board, Mr. Becker backed two policies that the business community strongly resisted and labor strongly backed. One required employers to post notices on their bulletin boards explaining employees’ rights to form unions and bargain collectively, and the other established new rules to speed up unionization elections, a move expected to increase unions’ success rate in organizing drives.

Last month, a federal appeals court suspended the notice requirement after a United States District Court judge ruled that the labor board did not have the authority to require such notices, although another district court judge had previously upheld the rule.

And last week, the N.L.R.B. temporarily suspended implementation of its new election rules soon after a federal district court judge found that the board had improperly adopted those rules without a quorum.

In February 2010, Senate Democrats fell eight votes short of the 60 needed to overcome a threatened Republican filibuster of a vote for Mr. Becker. Two Democrats, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Ben Nelson of Nebraska, joined Republicans in the 52-to-33 vote.

Mr. Becker’s supporters said he was a victim of Washington’s increased political polarization, noting that the Senate Labor Committee had voted overwhelmingly — 15 to 8 — to confirm Mr. Becker with two Republicans, including Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming, the committee’s senior Republican, voting to confirm him.

But soon afterward, he became a lightning rod in Washington’s fierce battle between business groups and labor unions. Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, wrote a letter opposing Mr. Becker, calling him “probably the most controversial nominee that I have seen in a long time.”

In opposing the nomination, Senate Republicans wrote to President Obama that Mr. Becker, a former law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Chicago, “could not be viewed as impartial, unbiased or objective” in labor board cases.

Republicans and business groups repeatedly attacked a law review article that he had written that said employers should not have a voice in unionization elections. But in Congressional testimony, Mr. Becker said that those were his personal views and that as a labor board member he would follow the letter of the law



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