Unions Threaten President Unless He Appoints Becker to NLRB

By February 11, 2010General, Labor Unions

Threaten the President and the Democrat politically, that is: Recess appoint Becker, or we’ll stay home on election day. Of course, unions are always threatening that. See the AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka on health care, for example.

The latest blustering is reported in The Wall Street Journal, “Unions Push White House to Appoint Becker,” covering organized labor’s increasing pressure for a recess appointment of AFL-CIO and SEIU lawyer Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board. The Senate failed to invoke cloture Tuesday on Becker’s nomination, 52-33.

“I think he should be appointed. I think a majority should rule here, and I hope the president takes it under strong consideration,” said Service Employees International Union President Andy Stern in an interview Wednesday.

United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard also wanted a so-called recess appointment—which bypasses the requirement for Senate confirmation—for Mr. Becker, and warned Democrats Thursday that failure to move on labor priorities could cost them in the 2010 elections. “If we don’t get meaningful progress, it will be hard to get people out for the election,” Mr. Gerard said. “Lots of people who worked real hard in ’08 don’t have a job right now.”

Meanwhile, reacting to the failed cloture motion, Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) says the filibuster is on shaky ground. From The Huffington Post:

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), another long-serving member, said that abuse of the filibuster is unsustainable. “I think it will either fall of its own weight — it should fall of its own weight — or it will fall after some massive conflict on the floor, which has happened in the past where there have been rulings from the chair that have led to reform,” Levin told the Huffington Post, adding that the filibuster should be restricted to major issues.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), who pushed Becker’s nomination through the Senate HELP Committee, even went so far today as to introduce legislation to modify the filibuster out of existence. From Politico:

Harkin appeared with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) to introduce a resolution that would set shrinking vote benchmarks to end filibusters: the first vote on a cloture motion — which ends a filibuster — would require 60 votes to proceed, the next would be two days later and require 57. This process would repeat itself until the number fell to 51, or a simple majority.

“It’s almost like, I said once, like the Serbs and the Bosnians,” Harkin said. “I mean they go back to the 11th century about who started what first. Or the Israelis and the Palestinians, who started what first.”

Which would make the cloture vote on Becker, what, the Battle of Kosovo? Seems a little overwrought.

Discussions about process are usually meant to divert attention from substantive disagreements. In this case, the bipartisan opposition in the Senate to Becker’s nomination stemmed from his anti-employer views and organized labor’s drum-beating for his appointment to the NLRB to enact the Employee Free Choice Act administratively. A recess appointment by President Obama will represent the President’s endorsement of Becker qualifications for the position, despite the fervent and well-founded opposition to his nomination.

For earlier posts on Becker’s nomination.

Leave a Reply