As the Senate was preparing to adjourn for the Memorial Day recess period, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) sought to bring a package of nominees before the Senate to be passed by unanimous consent. This often takes place when there is a backlog of military nominations and other non-controversial nominees.
But this time was different.
Harkin, who chairs the Senate HELP Committee with jurisdiction over labor nominees, attempted once again to seat Craig Becker to the powerful National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) by including Mr. Becker in this package. Senate had previously reacted to Mr. Becker’s views that are well outside the mainstream of legal thought with a bipartisan vote to oppose moving his nomination forward. Craig Becker’s extensive academic writings manifest radical points of view that go counter to decades of established labor law and indicate his willingness to use the NLRB to implement the goals of labor’s highest priority – the Employee Free Choice Act.
President Obama then made a recess appointment of Becker and another Democratic nominee, Buffalo labor lawyer Mark Pearce, to the NLRB over the Easter recess.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell blocked Sen. Harkin’s recent attempt at Becker’s confirmation by opposing the “unanimous consent” request, citing Becker’s views as well as the process to seat him – the recess appointment that circumvented the Senate’s will.
As we’ve reported previously the President appointed Mr. Becker to the Board during the Easter recess – after the Senate rejected moving forward with the nomination. James Fallows with The Atlantic notes that Sen. Harkin’s attempts to include Becker nomination further holds up a host of other nominees that are pending confirmation.
Labor leaders and their allies are dead set on implementing the Employee Free Choice Act at all costs – even if that means doing so incrementally through the Board and other Federal agencies. Sen. Harkin’s latest move is further evidence that employers and employees who object to the anti-democratic legislation must continue to be on guard for other attempts to enact aspects of the jobs-killing legislation.