During the confirmation hearing Tuesday, Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) was the chief Republican critic of Craig Becker’s nomination to the National Labor Relations Board. Becker, an associate counsel for the SEIU and the AFL-CIO, tried to assure the committee that as a board member he would not try to implement the more radical, anti-employer views expressed in his academic writings.
Isakson said, in effect, yes, we’ve heard those kind of assurances before, and we got burned. He outlined the criticism in the subsequent news release with the sub-headline, “Concerned Becker Will Use Position to Unfairly Favor Labor Unions Just as New Nominees to National Mediation Board Have Done“:
Isakson noted that pro-union members of another federal labor panel – the National Mediation Board – are also using their positions to impose pro-union rules. In 2009, the Senate confirmed two of President Obama’s nominees to the National Mediation Board only to watch them overturn 75 years of precedent by fiat just weeks after their confirmation.
“The actions of these new members of the National Mediation Board are nothing less than manipulation of the federal regulatory process to favor one special interest group,” Isakson said. “I remain concerned that Mr. Becker will follow their lead if he wins confirmation and compromise fairness to grant favors to the labor unions that currently employ him.”
Ranking Member Mike Enzi (R-WY) made a similar point in his committee statement, saying there was good evidence the nominees to the National Mediation Board were not forthright before the committee:
Last year this HELP Committee confirmed 2 nominees to the NMB. Some members, including me, specifically asked each of them about their position on changing the way a majority in a unionization election is measured. In response, both of these nominees testified that they had no pre-conceived agenda to alter rules that have been in place for 75 years. Yet, practically before the ink had dried on their confirmations, these two nominees began pushing through a regulation that is a wholesale reversal of those rules to tilt the playing field to the benefit of labor unions.
In their haste, the Democratic NMB members thoroughly disregarded the rights of the single minority member. The Minority Member was given no notice that an effort to initiate rulemaking was underway and, instead, was given one and a half hours to review the final rule proposal to determine if she would support it. They even tried to stop her from publishing a dissent to the proposal. There are strong indications that the two recently confirmed National Mediation Board Members were not forthright with this committee, and it is clear that they showed no respect for the rights of the NMB minority or regulatory process. Now, this is a different board and a different nominee. And I certainly do not want to impute the actions of others onto Mr. Becker, but I am putting this committee on notice that we will need to press for greater oversight in the upcoming year to make certain that promises made in testimony by nominees before this Committee are kept when nominees take office.
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