The Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee is scheduled for an executive session tomorrow to consider pending nominations by the President. The Hill reports today, however, that a spokeswoman for HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said the Committee will not be considering the re-nomination of Craig Becker to the NLRB this week. Nonetheless, business groups continue to ramp up their opposition to the nomination:
“Yes, we will absolutely oppose the Becker nomination,” said Jade West, senior vice president of government relations for the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors (NAW). “The NLRB, under the leadership of Becker, could implement the Employee Free Choice Act by fiat.”
The National Association of Manufactures (NAM) also sent a letter to the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee opposing the nomination.
The Chamber, NAW and NAM were part of a 23-business coalition that wrote to senators last October to oppose Becker’s nomination.
Union lawyers have dismissed the business groups’ concerns in the past, saying such a board ruling would come under heavy legal challenge and only legislation changing labor law would allow the card-check process to take place.
Other commentators sympathetic to labor, however, are less dismissive. In the Huffington Post‘s coverage of the nomination debate, Dmitri Iglitzin and Steven Hill write:
To understand what is at stake, it’s necessary to understand the potential power of the NLRB, a little-known administrative agency with broad authority over labor matters. The president appoints and the Senate confirms members to this body, and an NLRB on which Obama appointees constitute a majority could overturn a number of key decisions issued by the Bush administration-appointed board. Most legal scholars and labor experts believe that the NLRB has the authority to enact procedural changes that could, among other things:
* drastically shorten the time frame for holding union elections;
* eliminate cumbersome pre-election procedures that allow employers to dispute who is eligible to vote in such elections;
* require the employer to turn over employee names, addresses and phone numbers early in any union organizing drive;
* require equal access to both workers and the workplace for unions during campaigns; and
* increase the penalties on companies that violate their workers’ legal rights.
The NLRB even could make it easier for workers to unionize based on a card check showing of majority support–just as the EFCA would. It could force employers to recognize a union as the representative of its employees so long as a neutral third party verified that more than 50 percent of those employees had signed a written statement expressing a desire to be represented by that union. That’s a fairer way for workers to become unionized than the current cumbersome and flawed NLRB election process, which is often abused by employers who threaten retaliation against their workers.
Other commentary on the issue:
- "It’s All Academic: Profs Push NLRB Nomination" — TheTruthAboutEFCA
- "66 Academics to the Senate: Confirm Craig Becker to the NLRB Now" – FireDogLake
- Previous EFCAReport coverage here.