On Friday, April 24, 2009, President Obama announced his intention to nominate SEIU counsel Craig Becker and union attorney Mark Pearce as Members of the National Labor Relations Board.  There are currently only two Members serving on the Board, which is usually comprised of five Members.   If confirmed, Becker and Pearce would join Chairwoman Wilma Liebman as the three Members affiliated with the President’s party — and in this case, a delegation significantly sympathetic to organized labor.

There would remain a single open Member position for a Republican appointee.  Some have speculated that President Obama may attempt to nominate current General Counsel Ronald Meisburg, whose term as G.C. would not otherwise expire until 2010.  That would allow the President to nominate his own General Counsel — again, one presumably more sympathetic toward unions.  (Prof. Cynthia Estlund, perhaps?)

The biographies provided by the White House for the two prospective nominees follow:

Craig Becker, Nominee for Board Member, National Labor Relations Board
Craig Becker currently serves as Associate General Counsel to both the Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of Labor & Congress of Industrial Organizations.  He graduated summa cum laude from Yale College in 1978 and received his J.D. in 1981 from Yale Law School where he was an Editor of the Yale Law Journal. After law school he clerked for the Honorable Donald P. Lay, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.  For the past 27 years, he has practiced and taught labor law.   He was a Professor of Law at the UCLA School of Law between 1989 and 1994 and has also taught at the University of Chicago and Georgetown Law Schools.  He has published numerous articles on labor and employment law in scholarly journals, including the Harvard Law Review and Chicago Law Review, and has argued labor and employment cases in virtually every federal court of appeals and before the United States Supreme Court.

Mark Pearce, Nominee for Board Member, National Labor Relations Board
Mark Gaston Pearce has been a labor lawyer for his entire career.  He is one of the founding partners of the Buffalo, New York law firm of Creighton, Pearce, Johnsen & Giroux where he practices union side labor and employment law before state and federal courts and agencies including the N.Y.S. Public Employment Relations Board, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the National Labor Relations Board. Pearce in 2008 was appointed by the NYS Governor to serve as a Board Member on the New York State Industrial Board of Appeals, an independent quasi-judicial agency responsible for review of certain rulings and compliance orders of the NYS Department of Labor in matters including wage and hour law.  Pearce has taught several courses in the labor studies program at Cornell University’s School of Industrial Labor Relations Extension.   He is a Fellow in the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers.  Prior to 2002, Pearce practiced union side labor law and employment law at Lipsitz, Green, Fahringer, Roll, Salisbury & Cambria LLP.  From 1979 to 1994, he was an attorney and District Trial Specialist for the NLRB in Buffalo, NY.  Pearce received his J.D. from State University of New York, and his B.A. from Cornell University.

The composition of the Board must be watched closely by employers.  While much attention has been focused on the Employee Free Choice Act early in this administration, once seated, this Board is certain to reverse a good deal of precedent set last term. 

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