New NLRB Goes Into Effect This Week

President Obama’s controversial nomination and even more controversial recess appointment of SEIU and AFL-CIO counsel Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board overshadowed the other appointee, Buffalo labor lawyer Mark Pearce. The Buffalo Law Journal interviews Pearce in “Recess appointment takes Pearce back ‘home’ to NLRB,” noting he began his legal career in the Buffalo office of the NLRB. As for the controversies:

As for the partisan political maneuvering that stalled his appointment for nearly a year, Pearce said it will have no impact on his job once he begins work next week.

“It’s just business,” he said of the work that lies ahead. “Politics is gone from my mind, and fortunately, I wasn’t involved in the politics.”

The board has had three vacancies since January 2008. The U.S. Supreme Court last month heard arguments in a lawsuit that challenges the legality of decisions made by an NLRB panel of two.

“There will probably be a backlog, but I won’t know with any specificity until I arrive next week,” he said Tuesday. “Our ability to get it all done will be good. We are well-staffed, and the staff has been waiting for us. It’s sort of like a finely-tuned craft waiting for the driver, and I’m one of the drivers finally showing up.”

Business groups that vigorously opposed Becker’s nomination did not seek to block Pearce’s nomination to the board. A Democratic President appointing a Democratic labor lawyer to the NLRB was to be expected, just as a Republican President will appoint Republican lawyers who have represented management. The distinction — which many of Becker’s apologists sought to obfuscate — is that, along with his radical writings on labor relations, Becker was actually an employee of two labor unions, the SEIU and the AFL-CIO, that not only seek to win individual cases before the NLRB but also pursue an aggressive policy agenda. It’s the use of the NLRB to achieve policy ends — such as enactment of part or all of the Employee Free Choice Act — that continues to worry employer groups.


  • The Buffalo Law Journal is the first article we’ve seen to report the date that Pearce will take office, Wednesday, April 7. Executive branch boards usually have a nice swearing in ceremony involving an Administration official, so one expects Becker would take office at the same time.
  • Many of the news accounts announced last week that President Obama made recess appointments. Actually, the White House news release said, “President Obama announced his intent to recess appoint fifteen nominees to fill critical administration posts…”
  • The White House has a nice spreadsheet online of its nominations, but it needs a new column: “Recess appointed.”
  • Orange County Register columnist Dena Burns writes in “After health reform Obama has his mojo back“: “Obama made his first recess appointments – naming 15 people to fill jobs that the Senate has so far refused to confirm. And he included one that really annoyed the Republicans. Chicago labor lawyer and union official Craig Becker was named to the National Labor Relations Board. Translation: something for the Democratic base.”
  • The NLRB continues to post news releases (here and here) highlighting enforcement actions only against employers, creating an impression of an activist agency that departs from its purpose as a disinterested, quasi-judicial agency.

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