In a letter to Senate leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, 66 labor law academics say Craig Becker should be immediately confirmed to serve on the National Labor Relations Board. The letter, obtained by Firedoglake, can be viewed in full here.
Becker, counsel to both the AFL-CIO and SEIU and himself a former academic at UCLA, was renominated to the NLRB this month after John McCain placed a hold and forced the Senate to return the initial nomination at the end of 2009. Conservatives are outraged that Becker supports workers’ rights, including Becker’s belief that workers should be able to join unions even when their company stands in the way.
The letter from 66 academics was organized by Catherine Fisk of UC Irvine’s School of Law, and includes prominent labor academics like James Brudney and Lance Compa, among others. (It’s worth noting that a handful of the academics on this letter have consulted for unions or allied groups.)
This push from the academics comes as corporate front groups are ramping up their campaign against Becker. Groups like the Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers are adamantly opposed to Becker on the NLRB, and are treating a vote for Becker like a vote for the Employee Free Choice Act.
Business groups’ concern about Becker is that a pro-union labor board with him in place could rule that existing labor law allows employees to form a union by signing authorization cards, rather than through a secret ballot. That interpretation would allow the Obama administration to put in place the most contentious provision in the card-check legislation.
“Any senator who opposes card-check ought to oppose this nominee,” said Glenn Spencer, executive director of the Workforce Freedom Initiative at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
First, a fact check. Employees are currently allowed to join a union by signing cards; corporations must also consent for the union to be authorized. It’s a trick of corporations to pretend majority sign-up doesn’t already exist and isn’t widely used, despite more workers using majority sign-up than the NLRB process. Besides, the same groups would immediately appeal any decision like that to the courts and tie it up for years – much like how the current NLRB process “works.”
In a broader context, Becker is the latest front in the right’s fight against any person or policy considered remotely pro-worker. As with DeMint’s victory over possibly pro-worker TSA nominee Erroll Southers, the fight over Becker shows the extent to which the corporations and their Members of Congress bring out the big guns for any possible advancement of the middle class and workers’ rights. By chipping away at the core of the labor movement, the right erodes the very base of the Democratic Party. It’s a direct hit: labor unions mean boots on the ground for candidates, money for ads, and more. And each time the right picks a fight with Becker, Southers, or the Employee Free Choice Act, both corporations and the right directly benefit from one fewer chance for workers to exercise their rights and one fewer chance for the labor movement to represent the interests of the middle class.
Craig Becker needs to be confirmed to the NLRB, if only to ease the bleeding of representation for working people in our government.