Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Obama Labor nominee fails in senate vote

The Senate has voted against invoking cloture on Craig Becker, Obama's embatted nominee to the National Labor Relations Board.  By a vote of 52-33, Becker failed to get the needed 60 votes that would allow his nomination to come to the floor.  All Republicans and Democrats, Ben Nelson and Blanche Lincoln voted no.  Nelson had signaled his intent to support the filibuster yesterday.  From his website:
“Mr. Becker’s previous statements strongly indicate that he would take an aggressive personal agenda to the NLRB, and that he would pursue a personal agenda there, rather than that of the Administration,” said Senator Nelson. “This is of great concern, considering that the Board’s main responsibility is to resolve labor disputes with an even and impartial hand. In addition, the nominee’s statements fly in the face of Nebraska’s Right to Work laws, which have been credited in part with our excellent business climate that has attracted employers and many good jobs to Nebraska. Considering these matters, I will oppose the upcoming cloture motion and the nomination.”
In a compelling post, Don Loos appealed to Big Government readers today to oppose Becker's nomination on the basis of his history of advocacy for SEIU and ACORN and an apparent lack of candor:
One recent piece of evidence to add to the growing Becker rap sheet:

In last week’s U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing, Obama nominee Craig Becker clearly tried to put distance between himself and his former client ACORN:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) asked Becker this question:

“Do you perform work for and provide advice to ACORN or ACORN-affiliated groups while employed by your current employers or on a volunteer basis?”

Becker responded, “Senator McCain, I have never done so.” (Emphasis added)[2]

Becker statement to the Senate Committee is that he has never provided legal advice to ACORN or to an ACORN affiliate while employed by SEIU; but, an ACORN produced report directly conflicts Becker’s statement.

ACORN’s “2006 YEAR ENDING – YEAR BEGINNING REPORTS” publication (a compilation of reports filed by ACORN organizations) declared that Becker while serving as SEIU Counsel was also a counsel for ACORN:

“Legal Representation – In the past we have used Steve Bachmann and the CCI legal team; SEIU counsel, Craig Becker; Art Martin in Southern Illinois…” (Emphasis added)[3]

In addition as the National Right To Work Committee’s report on Becker noted, ACORN’s Founder Wade Rathke produced some interesting commentary about Becker that contradicts his statement as well:

“Here’s a big win no matter how you shake and bake it: Craig Becker being nominated for a seat on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)! … having crossed paths with Craig for more than 20 years, finally we have a situation where a brilliant, effective, and pro-worker/pro-union lawyer will be on the NLRB. …
Other critics have expressed concern that Becker would try to implement provisions of the card check bill through regulatory maneuvers, outside of the legislative process.  The Wall Street Journal reports:
Mr. Becker's nomination has also become linked to the debate over the Employee Free Choice Act, also known as the "card check" bill. The measure would make it easier for unions to organize by allowing them to bypass secret-ballot elections in favor of a process that requires workers merely to sign cards agreeing to join. Unions say the bill is needed to limit employer harassment of pro-union employees, while businesses say it would rob them of adequate time to argue their case against unionizing.

The bill has been stuck in the Senate. At a hearing earlier this month, Georgia Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson expressed concern that Mr. Becker's writings "indicated a belief that the NLRB has the power to make some of the dramatic changes in the card-check bill" even if it doesn't pass. Mr. Becker suggested he now doesn't believe the board could take such steps. He said his writings were "intended to be provocative and to ask fundamental questions in order for scholars and others to re-evaluate."
In the absence of a risky recess appointment by President Obama, Becker's nomination to the NLRB is dead. This vote likely (and hopefully) signals the death of card check legislation as well.

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