Tags: US | Labor | Board | Nominee

GOP Warns Obama Against Labor Board Appointment

Friday, 26 Mar 2010 02:44 PM


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Republican senators and business groups urged President Barack Obama against using the Easter recess to name a union lawyer to the National Labor Relations Board.

Opponents portray the lawyer, Craig Becker, as a radical who would push an aggressively pro-union agenda. Democrats say Becker is eminently qualified to serve on the board, which certifies union elections. He has been a top lawyer for the Service Employees International Union and the AFL-CIO.

All 41 GOP senators wrote Obama Thursday urging him not to appoint Becker when Congress takes a break next week.

"His writings clearly indicate that he would use his position on the NLRB to institute far-reaching changes in labor law far exceeding the board's authority and bypassing the role of Congress," the lawmakers wrote in a letter.

The GOP, led by Arizona Sen. John McCain, has blocked Becker's confirmation for months. Democrats could not muster 60 votes last month to move it forward.

Senate approval is needed to place Becker on the board, but appointing him during the recess would allow Becker to serve through next year without the Senate's OK.

Becker's nomination is tied to the broader debate over the controversial "card check" bill making it easier for unions to organize workers, a measure that has stalled amid GOP opposition in Congress.

Republicans worry that some of Becker's writings indicate he might use the NLRB to bypass Congress and implement parts of the bill. Becker has denied any intent to circumvent Congress.

Obama angered many of his union supporters in February when he decided not to appoint Becker during the Presidents Day recess. Obama instead made a deal with GOP leaders to move through 27 other non-controversial nominations that also had been blocked.

But administration officials — including Vice President Joe Biden and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis — suggested to AFL-CIO leaders earlier this month that Becker would be appointed over the next congressional break.

The board has been forced to postpone hundreds of cases as lawmakers have quarreled over nominees of both Obama's and President George W. Bush's. Three of its five seats have been vacant for more than two years.

Lawmakers who support organized labor say GOP tactics have left the board unable to enforce labor laws or mediate claims for fair wages, benefits and other rights.

Questions about whether the board is legally permitted to decide any cases with a skeleton crew came before the U.S. Supreme Court this week. Justices heard oral arguments in a case challenging whether the board can act with only two members.

Despite the outcry from Republicans, recess appointments to the NLRB are nothing new. Bush used the tactic to install board members seven times, more than any other president.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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