Anti-Labor Groups Are Against Recess Appointment, But Only Sometimes

March 30, 2010 2:26 pm ET — Walid Zafar

Several weeks ago, anti-labor forces cheered when Senate Republicans filibustered the nomination of Craig Becker, President Obama's choice for the National Labor Relations Board (the chief federal referee of labor-management disputes).  Now, the same groups are angry over the president's decision to recess-appoint Becker to the NLRB. Becker, a highly-regarded labor lawyer, is despised by anti-labor movement because he is pro-worker, which to the right, is seen as radical.  Already, several anti-labor groups have asked Becker to recuse himself from cases that involve anti-labor groups.

A writer at The Weekly Standard complains, "[Becker's] appointment has long been worrisome because it is seen as a way for the president to administer its radical labor agenda through the National Labor Relations Board."  It's shocking to folks on the right that the president would appoint someone who shares his own views, though the radical label is very misleading.  Becker is by all definitions within the mainstream.  To the right, recess-appointing a controversial nominee is unbecoming of a president, except of course, if the nominee in question and the president that appoints him, is a Republican.

President George W. Bush recess-appointed several people to the NLRB, including Michael Bartlett, William Cowen and Peter Kisanow.  Kisanow - a conservative-leaning member of the board - was rejected by the Senate but was still appointed.  Many of Bush's appointees were previously corporate lawyers, which made the NLRB decisively anti-worker.

LaborPains.org, a project of Richard Berman's Center for Union Facts and Richard Berman's Employee Freedom Action Committee, is also attacking the recess-appointment.  They are complaining that the White House obfuscated Becker's record.  From a post:

Now I will let the White House have the final word on this one. At the height of the controversy, Craig Becker's bio read like this on the White House's website:

"Craig Becker, of Illinois, to be a Member of the National Labor Relations Board for the term of five years expiring December 16, 2014, vice Dennis P. Walsh."

In the announcement on Saturday, the White House re-released a statement which rehashed his bio from last spring when he was first nominated:

"Craig Becker currently serves as Associate General Counsel to both the Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of Labor & Congress of Industrial Organizations. He graduated summa cum laude from Yale College in 1978 and received his J.D. in 1981 from Yale Law School where he was an Editor of the Yale Law Journal. After law school he clerked for the Honorable Donald P. Lay, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.  For the past 27 years, he has practiced and taught labor law. He was a Professor of Law at the UCLA School of Law between 1989 and 1994 and has also taught at the University of Chicago and Georgetown Law Schools.  He has published numerous articles on labor and employment law in scholarly journals, including the Harvard Law Review and Chicago Law Review, and has argued labor and employment cases in virtually every federal court of appeals and before the United States Supreme Court."

You can put out that kind of bio when you know you've already won, and you have nothing to lose.

When Becker's nomination was first announced, his bio was brief but now that he actually sits on the board, his bio is more thorough.  It makes perfect sense, unless, of course, you're waging a war in which you're even willing to invoke Idi Amin and Mahmoud Ahmadinjad to attack union leaders.

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