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Obama fails to seat NLRB nominee via recess appointment

03.15.10

MARCH 2010 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

Obama fails to seat NLRB nominee via recess appointment

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 1st- More than seven months after the Obama Administration sent to the United States Senate the nomination of Craig Becker to be a member of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Democrats fell short of the 60 votes needed to break a Republican led filibuster against his nomination. The key procedural vote failed 52 to 33 with two Democratic Senators voted with the Republicans.

Mr. Becker’s nomination was blocked after the United States Chamber of Commerce in Washington heavily lobbied the business organization supporters in the Senate to not support his seat on the NLRB.

In April, 2009 President Obama announced his intention to nominate labor law attorneys Mr. Becker and Mark Gaston Pearce for the two vacant Democratic seats on the NLRB. Brian Hayes was nominated by Mr. Obama to be the Republican member of the NLRB. If Mr. Obama’s nominees were confirmed by the Senate the NLRB would have a full complement of five members for the first time since December 16th, 2007. The NLRB oversees the enforcement of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

The Senate in December returned the nomination of Mr. Becker back to the White House, however the Obama Administration resubmitted his name on Janaury 19th.

Mr. Becker’s seat on the NLRB had been blocked by Arizona Republican Senator John McCain for months by calling for hearings before proceeding to full committee consideration of his nomination.

The Chamber of Commerce stated Mr. McCain had a legislative hold on the Becker nomination because it takes 60 votes to invoke cloture on the nomination before it can proceed to an up-or-down vote and all of the Democrats in the Senate did not agreed to support cloture. Because of the Massachusetts election the Democratic party now has 59 seats in the Senate but they were unable to seat Mr. Becker when the party held 60 seats.

Democratic Senators Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Ben Nelson of Nebraska voted with 31 Republicans to block Mr. Becker’s nomination. No Republicans voted to support cloture.

Mr. Becker is Associate General Counsel of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) in Washington DC.

The sitting members of the NLRB are Chairman Wilma Liebman and member Peter Schaumber.

Mr. Hayes was in private legal practice for more than twenty-five years devoted exclusively to representing management clients in all aspects of labor and employment law. He has represented employers in scores of cases before the NLRB, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and various state fair employment practice agencies.

The Chamber of Commerce stated Mr. Becker was blocked because of his view that employers should be stripped of any legally cognizable interest in their employees’ election of representatives. Also, Mr. Becker’s ties to the SEIU, an avid proponent of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCAct) legislation could lead him to advance “Card Check” organizing through administrative action of the NLRB.

Despite the blocked attempt President Obama could have still seated Mr. Becker to the NLRB. Mr. Becker could have been seated via “recess appointment” by the administration before the President Day’s recess on February 12th and could have served until the conclusion of the next session in late 2011. However, Mr. Obama failed to do so.

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