Obama yanks controversial pro-union appointee from labor board

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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On Thursday President Barack Obama officially rescinded former Service Employees International Union and AFL-CIO attorney Craig Becker’s nomination to serve on the National Labor Relations Board. The move shapes up as the latest in a growing line of Republican victories surrounding the board.

The NLRB is the federal agency that until recently opposed the Boeing Company’s move to opening a new assembly plant in the right-to-work state of South Carolina.

The board has since dropped its complaint against the aircraft manufacturer, but for months parroted union allegations that Boeing’s South Carolina production line was the product of retaliation against International Association of Machinists workers in the state of Washington.

While serving as a March 2010 recess appointee to the board, Becker has faced criticism for being too radical. The NLRB has made several moves since then that broke new ground in the degree to which they favored union positions — including moves to shorten the time-frame for workplace unionization elections, force employers to display pro-union posters in workplaces, and allow unions to section off workplaces in order to unionize them slowly in smaller “micro-unions.”

When news broke that Becker’s nomination had been rescinded, Fred Wszolek of the Workforce Fairness Institute had harsh words. “Good riddance,” Wszolek said. “Craig Becker will not be missed.”

House Education and Workforce committee chairman Rep. John Kline, a Minnesota Republican, told The Daily Caller that Becker’s absence will be a net positive for America. “A victory on behalf of America’s workers and employers,” Kline said in an email.

Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi, the ranking member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, asked President Obama ten months ago to rescind Becker’s nomination.

“I oppose the nomination of Craig Becker absolutely,” Enzi said in a February 2011 statement. “Over the past ten months, Mr. Becker has made his intention and bias clear. The NLRB is meant to be an impartial authority ensuring organizing freedom in the workplace, not a politicized institution bent on increasing unionization rates at the cost of American jobs. Last year, Mr. Becker was appointed against the will of the Senate. This year, I urge President Obama to work with Senators to identify a replacement nominee.”

U.S. Chamber of Commerce labor policy specialist Glenn Spencer told TheDC that, like Enzi, most senators easily comprehended the message that Becker’s 2009 nomination sent to American businesses.

“Using government as an agent of union activism was never a strategy for economic growth,” Spencer said, “and Becker’s failure to win confirmation shows that a majority of Senators understood that.”

In May TheDC uncovered a group of Harvard Law Review articles in which Becker advocated for government control over the flow of capital.

Reacting to those articles at the time, Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson told TheDC that Becker’s interpretation held that “labor unions can’t possibly succeed unless you guarantee their success. In his reading of the law, any notion of workers who choose to collectively bargain sitting down with their employer and working out a deal is gone.”

A spokeswoman for the NLRB has not responded to a request from The Daily Caller about President Obama’latest move.

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