Today, 41 Republican Senators led by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) sent a letter to President Obama urging him not to “bypass the advice and consent traditions of the Senate” by seating Craig Becker to the powerful National Labor Relations Board through a recess appointment. By blocking cloture on his nomination, the Senate in February expressed bipartisan opposition to moving this nomination forward.
Becker’s defenders claim his appointment his necessary to create a full quorum on the five-member board, which is now operating with only two members. However, as today’s Senate letter notes, there is a bipartisan approach available to resolve this issue. The letter explains to the President:
You have nominated three individuals for seats on the NLRB: Democratic union lawyer Mark Gaston Pearce, Senate HELP Committee Republican Labor Coordinator Brian Hayes, and Mr. Becker. Of these three, only Mr. Becker has generated any controversy.
Appears to us the easy way to have the Board fully staffed is for the Senate to clear the two nominations of Mr. Pearce and Mr. Hayes that were unanimously approved by the Senate HELP Committee.
The Senate echoes concerns from the employer community that Mr. Becker’s views on labor law are unsuitable for a potential Board member:
We oppose Mr. Becker’s recess appointment because of his extensive, highly controversial writings, and his entire legal and scholarly career, all of which indicate that he could not be viewed as impartial, unbiased, or objective in deciding cases before this quasi-judicial agency. Instead, 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. His rejection of traditional notions of democracy in union elections and of an employer’s status as a party to labor representation proceedings has garnered bi-partisan opposition to his nomination.
This letter also points out another unprecedented aspect of Mr. Becker’s nomination:
Also, as the first NLRB nominee to come directly from the legal staff of an international union (SEIU) and a union federation (AFL-CIO), Mr. Becker would, by his own admission, be required to recuse himself from many cases before the NLRB due to a legal or ethical conflict. He has offered to recuse himself only from cases involving the SEIU or the AFL-CIO as individual institutions. However, we believe that in order to avoid a conflict, or even the appearance of a conflict, Mr. Becker also should be required to recuse himself from all cases involving any of the SEIU’s locals, as well as the international union itself.
The NAM joined with 19 other employer organizations earlier this week to express similar concerns. Click here for more information.
UPDATE (2:55 p.m.): Coverage of letter:
- Wall Street Journal, “GOP Warns on Recess Appointment of Becker to NLRB“
- Washington Post (blog), “GOP senators warn Obama of NLRB recess appointment“
- Associated Press, “GOP senators warn Obama on recess appointment“