Commentary Magazine


Topic: law-review article

Re: Becker Defeated

Regarding the defeat of Harold Craig Becker’s nomination, the Wall Street Journal‘s editors observe:

Democrats Ben Nelson and Blanche Lincoln joined with Republicans to block cloture on a closely watched vote on the appointment of a lawyer for Andy Stern’s Service Employees International Union to a seat on the National Labor Relations Board. … The message from yesterday’s cloture motion is sobering for the White House and its union allies. Support for their antigrowth agenda, from universal health care to easier unionization rules, is collapsing on the Hill almost as quickly as in the country at large.

True, but it is equally true that a number of Democrats in competitive races went to the mat for that anti-growth agenda on Becker, just as they have on a series of items on Obama’s far-Left agenda. Voting for cloture and for Becker were Michael Bennet of Colorado, Evan Bayh of Indiana, and of course, Harry Reid of Nevada. Voters back home may wonder why it is that these self-styled moderates cast votes for Big Labor’s favorite lawyer, who thinks, surprisingly enough, just like the Big Labor bosses. (“Among the nominees for the three open seats on the five-member board, his views stood out for their radicalism. In a law review article, Mr. Becker said the NLRB could rewrite union-election rules to favor labor by fiat—for example, by removing the requirement for a secret ballot.”)

But now the ball is in Obama’s court. Does he install Becker, thereby exposing the Big Labor toadyism of his administration and highlighting the faux centrism of Bennet, Bayh, Reid, and others? Or does he take this as a sign that there is a limited appetite for his extreme vision and equally extreme appointees? There is always reason to hope that, finally, Obama will notice the blinking warning lights (Go back! Even your own party can’t defend you!). But if he didn’t take the Scott Brown win to heart, he’s probably not all that impressed that his NLRB nominee didn’t get through.

Regarding the defeat of Harold Craig Becker’s nomination, the Wall Street Journal‘s editors observe:

Democrats Ben Nelson and Blanche Lincoln joined with Republicans to block cloture on a closely watched vote on the appointment of a lawyer for Andy Stern’s Service Employees International Union to a seat on the National Labor Relations Board. … The message from yesterday’s cloture motion is sobering for the White House and its union allies. Support for their antigrowth agenda, from universal health care to easier unionization rules, is collapsing on the Hill almost as quickly as in the country at large.

True, but it is equally true that a number of Democrats in competitive races went to the mat for that anti-growth agenda on Becker, just as they have on a series of items on Obama’s far-Left agenda. Voting for cloture and for Becker were Michael Bennet of Colorado, Evan Bayh of Indiana, and of course, Harry Reid of Nevada. Voters back home may wonder why it is that these self-styled moderates cast votes for Big Labor’s favorite lawyer, who thinks, surprisingly enough, just like the Big Labor bosses. (“Among the nominees for the three open seats on the five-member board, his views stood out for their radicalism. In a law review article, Mr. Becker said the NLRB could rewrite union-election rules to favor labor by fiat—for example, by removing the requirement for a secret ballot.”)

But now the ball is in Obama’s court. Does he install Becker, thereby exposing the Big Labor toadyism of his administration and highlighting the faux centrism of Bennet, Bayh, Reid, and others? Or does he take this as a sign that there is a limited appetite for his extreme vision and equally extreme appointees? There is always reason to hope that, finally, Obama will notice the blinking warning lights (Go back! Even your own party can’t defend you!). But if he didn’t take the Scott Brown win to heart, he’s probably not all that impressed that his NLRB nominee didn’t get through.

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Re: Laboring for Obama

Obama’s nominee to the National Labor Relations Board, Harold Craig Becker, came under fire in his senate confirmation hearing yesterday. As controversial nominee are wont to do, he tried to distance himself from his past writings:

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R., Ga.) expressed concern that Becker’s writings “have indicated a belief that the NLRB has the power to make some of the dramatic changes in the card-check bill.” The so-called card-check legislation, supported by Obama and Democrats in Congress, would allow unions to bypass secret-ballot elections and instead organize in workplaces by collecting signed cards from workers.

Becker on Tuesday suggested that he now doesn’t believe the board could take such a step, distancing himself from the writings.

“The law is clear that the decision…(of) an alternative route to certification rests with Congress and not the board,” Becker said, adding that the writings were “intended to be provocative and to ask fundamental questions in order for scholars and others to re-evaluate.”

Now, he’s all about implementing the will of Congress, you see. (“‘If confirmed, my decisions, unlike the views of a scholar, will have practical, concrete and important consequences,’ he told members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee. ‘I will have a duty to implement the intent of Congress.’”) That, of course, marks a stark reversal from his 1993 law review article, in which he claimed just the opposite, namely that election rules should be redrafted to favor unions and that the NLRB could do this all on its own without Congressional authorization.

Then the issue of his association with the SEIU surfaced:

Becker saw tough questioning from Sen. John McCain (R. Ariz.) over whether he would recuse himself from cases before the NLRB involving the Service Employees International Union, where Becker most recently worked. Becker said he would recuse himself from cases involving the Service Employees International Union for two years but stopped short of saying what he would do so in a case mentioned by McCain involving a local chapter of the union.

“If any other matter arises in which any questions can be raised or might be raised about my impartiality, I will take that very seriously,” Becker said.

McCain told Becker “that’s not good enough.”

The real question is whether Harry Reid will try to jam this nomination through before Scott Brown is seated next week and Republicans can mount a successful filibuster. If Reid decides to force the vote with Sen. Paul Kirk still casting votes nearly a month after the Massachusetts election, it will be one more example of the excesses of one-party rule – in which a president beholden to political patrons can put up a nominee with obvious bias and ethical problems, knowing that his dutiful senate allies will rubber stamp his choice. And what of those Red State senators who swear to their constituents that they exercise independent judgment? They keep assuring their constituents that they don’t simply do the bidding of their ultra-liberal leadership. Oh well, another time perhaps. Now, one suspects it is time to ram through a favor for Big Labor.

Obama’s nominee to the National Labor Relations Board, Harold Craig Becker, came under fire in his senate confirmation hearing yesterday. As controversial nominee are wont to do, he tried to distance himself from his past writings:

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R., Ga.) expressed concern that Becker’s writings “have indicated a belief that the NLRB has the power to make some of the dramatic changes in the card-check bill.” The so-called card-check legislation, supported by Obama and Democrats in Congress, would allow unions to bypass secret-ballot elections and instead organize in workplaces by collecting signed cards from workers.

Becker on Tuesday suggested that he now doesn’t believe the board could take such a step, distancing himself from the writings.

“The law is clear that the decision…(of) an alternative route to certification rests with Congress and not the board,” Becker said, adding that the writings were “intended to be provocative and to ask fundamental questions in order for scholars and others to re-evaluate.”

Now, he’s all about implementing the will of Congress, you see. (“‘If confirmed, my decisions, unlike the views of a scholar, will have practical, concrete and important consequences,’ he told members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee. ‘I will have a duty to implement the intent of Congress.’”) That, of course, marks a stark reversal from his 1993 law review article, in which he claimed just the opposite, namely that election rules should be redrafted to favor unions and that the NLRB could do this all on its own without Congressional authorization.

Then the issue of his association with the SEIU surfaced:

Becker saw tough questioning from Sen. John McCain (R. Ariz.) over whether he would recuse himself from cases before the NLRB involving the Service Employees International Union, where Becker most recently worked. Becker said he would recuse himself from cases involving the Service Employees International Union for two years but stopped short of saying what he would do so in a case mentioned by McCain involving a local chapter of the union.

“If any other matter arises in which any questions can be raised or might be raised about my impartiality, I will take that very seriously,” Becker said.

McCain told Becker “that’s not good enough.”

The real question is whether Harry Reid will try to jam this nomination through before Scott Brown is seated next week and Republicans can mount a successful filibuster. If Reid decides to force the vote with Sen. Paul Kirk still casting votes nearly a month after the Massachusetts election, it will be one more example of the excesses of one-party rule – in which a president beholden to political patrons can put up a nominee with obvious bias and ethical problems, knowing that his dutiful senate allies will rubber stamp his choice. And what of those Red State senators who swear to their constituents that they exercise independent judgment? They keep assuring their constituents that they don’t simply do the bidding of their ultra-liberal leadership. Oh well, another time perhaps. Now, one suspects it is time to ram through a favor for Big Labor.

Read Less

Laboring for Obama

As others have aptly detailed, Patricia Smith, Obama’s nominee for solicitor of labor, has a problem with telling the truth. In an extraordinary detailed account, Republican senators have documented her repeated misstatements concerning a New York wage and hour program, the intention to expand the program, the involvement of organized labor in devising the program, and the intention of Big Labor to use the program to facilitate organizing efforts. She was passed out of committee on a straight party-line vote and last night, with Sen. Paul Kirk still casting votes, the Senate invoked cloture, 60-32. So this seems to be one gift to Big Labor on which the Democrats can still deliver. (Yes, there is something pernicious about keeping Kirk there to vote in favors for Obama’s Big Labor patrons.)

But it is not the only gift to Big Labor coming from the Democrats. There is also the nomination of Harold Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board. His hearing is set for today. Who is Becker? Here’s a handy summary:

Mr. Becker is associate general counsel at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which is most recently in the news for its close ties to Acorn, the disgraced housing shakedown operation. President Obama nominated Mr. Becker in April to the five-member NLRB, which has the critical job of supervising union elections, investigating labor practices, and interpreting the National Labor Relations Act. In a 1993 Minnesota Law Review article, written when he was a UCLA professor, Mr. Becker argued for rewriting current union-election rules in favor of labor. And he suggested the NLRB could do this by regulatory fiat, without a vote of Congress.

In that law-review article, Becker argues that employers should be not be allowed to attend NLRB hearings about elections and shouldn’t be permitted to challenge election results even if unions engage in misconduct. Under his regime, elections would not be held at workplaces and could be conducted by mail (a recipe for union intimidation and fraud). In Becker’s legal world, employers would not be permitted to even assign observers at elections to detect fraud.

And Becker too has a candor problem, previously refusing to answer questions as to whether he drafted pro-Labor executive orders for the Obama administration while still on the SEIU’s payroll. Aside from his obvious fidelity to Big Labor, his apparent willingness to implement a ridiculously biased set of rules through executive fiat and his reluctance to come clean on his work for the Obami, there are his Chicago connections:

One of the many accusations leveled against former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is that he accepted money from the SEIU in return for taking actions giving collective bargaining rights to Illinois home health-care workers. While Mr. Becker denies any knowledge of, or role in, contributions to the former Governor, he does admit that he provided “advice and counsel to SEIU relating to proposed executive orders and proposed legislation giving homecare workers a right to organize and engage in collective bargaining under state law.”

Mr. Becker says he “worked with and provided advice” to SEIU Local 880 in Chicago, a beneficiary of the newly unionized health workers, and one of two SEIU locals currently in the national spotlight for its deep ties with Acorn. Mr. Becker denies working for Acorn or its affiliates, but as recently as April Acorn co-founder Wade Rathke praised Mr. Becker by name, noting “For my money, Craig’s signal contribution has been his work in crafting and executing the legal strategies and protections which have allowed the effective organization of informal workers, and by this I mean home health-care workers.”

Unlike Smith, Becker may not get a vote before Scott Brown is sworn in.

These two nominees tell us much about the Democrats and their dependence on Big Labor. When Obama talks about the unseemly influence of “special interests,” we should look no further than these two nominees, who—one supposes—are small consolation prizes to Big Labor, which has gotten precious little else from this adminstration after giving millions to elect Obama and large Democratic majorities in Congress. It is also yet another argument in favor of divided government. Without the comfort of huge Democratic majorities to rubber stamp its appointments, the White House would presumably think twice before sending up such defective nominees.

As others have aptly detailed, Patricia Smith, Obama’s nominee for solicitor of labor, has a problem with telling the truth. In an extraordinary detailed account, Republican senators have documented her repeated misstatements concerning a New York wage and hour program, the intention to expand the program, the involvement of organized labor in devising the program, and the intention of Big Labor to use the program to facilitate organizing efforts. She was passed out of committee on a straight party-line vote and last night, with Sen. Paul Kirk still casting votes, the Senate invoked cloture, 60-32. So this seems to be one gift to Big Labor on which the Democrats can still deliver. (Yes, there is something pernicious about keeping Kirk there to vote in favors for Obama’s Big Labor patrons.)

But it is not the only gift to Big Labor coming from the Democrats. There is also the nomination of Harold Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board. His hearing is set for today. Who is Becker? Here’s a handy summary:

Mr. Becker is associate general counsel at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which is most recently in the news for its close ties to Acorn, the disgraced housing shakedown operation. President Obama nominated Mr. Becker in April to the five-member NLRB, which has the critical job of supervising union elections, investigating labor practices, and interpreting the National Labor Relations Act. In a 1993 Minnesota Law Review article, written when he was a UCLA professor, Mr. Becker argued for rewriting current union-election rules in favor of labor. And he suggested the NLRB could do this by regulatory fiat, without a vote of Congress.

In that law-review article, Becker argues that employers should be not be allowed to attend NLRB hearings about elections and shouldn’t be permitted to challenge election results even if unions engage in misconduct. Under his regime, elections would not be held at workplaces and could be conducted by mail (a recipe for union intimidation and fraud). In Becker’s legal world, employers would not be permitted to even assign observers at elections to detect fraud.

And Becker too has a candor problem, previously refusing to answer questions as to whether he drafted pro-Labor executive orders for the Obama administration while still on the SEIU’s payroll. Aside from his obvious fidelity to Big Labor, his apparent willingness to implement a ridiculously biased set of rules through executive fiat and his reluctance to come clean on his work for the Obami, there are his Chicago connections:

One of the many accusations leveled against former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is that he accepted money from the SEIU in return for taking actions giving collective bargaining rights to Illinois home health-care workers. While Mr. Becker denies any knowledge of, or role in, contributions to the former Governor, he does admit that he provided “advice and counsel to SEIU relating to proposed executive orders and proposed legislation giving homecare workers a right to organize and engage in collective bargaining under state law.”

Mr. Becker says he “worked with and provided advice” to SEIU Local 880 in Chicago, a beneficiary of the newly unionized health workers, and one of two SEIU locals currently in the national spotlight for its deep ties with Acorn. Mr. Becker denies working for Acorn or its affiliates, but as recently as April Acorn co-founder Wade Rathke praised Mr. Becker by name, noting “For my money, Craig’s signal contribution has been his work in crafting and executing the legal strategies and protections which have allowed the effective organization of informal workers, and by this I mean home health-care workers.”

Unlike Smith, Becker may not get a vote before Scott Brown is sworn in.

These two nominees tell us much about the Democrats and their dependence on Big Labor. When Obama talks about the unseemly influence of “special interests,” we should look no further than these two nominees, who—one supposes—are small consolation prizes to Big Labor, which has gotten precious little else from this adminstration after giving millions to elect Obama and large Democratic majorities in Congress. It is also yet another argument in favor of divided government. Without the comfort of huge Democratic majorities to rubber stamp its appointments, the White House would presumably think twice before sending up such defective nominees.

Read Less




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