On January 26, 2011, President Obama re-nominated Craig Becker to a full five-year term as a member of the National Labor Relations Board. Becker, who has served on the Board via recess appointment since March 2010, has previously been nominated by President Obama on multiple occasions in 2009 and 2010, but each time failed to overcome Republican-led filibusters. As a recess appointee, Becker will leave the Board at the end of 2011. Senate confirmation to a full term, unlikely in light of recent gains by Senate Republicans in the 2010 election, would extend his term through the end of 2014.
Becker, the former associate general counsel for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), has drawn fire from business groups and Senate Republicans since first being nominated by President Obama in July 2009. After the Senate returned his nomination without acting upon it at the end of the 2009 session, was re-nominated him in January 2010. In February 2010, in a rare NLRB nomination hearing before the Senate HELP Committee, Becker was aggressively questioned about his prior pro-labor writings, alleged conflicts of interest relating to his previous employment with the SEIU and the AFL-CIO, and allegations that he would administratively implement pro-labor regulations while serving on the board, including elements of the proposed Employee Free Choice Act (”EFCA”). Becker’s testimony did not assuage Senate Republicans and a cloture vote on his nomination failed on February 9, 2010.
With the Board down to two members, President Obama on March 27, 2010 provided recess appointments to Becker and Democratic labor lawyer Mark Pearce, who has since been confirmed to a full term. As a Board member, Becker has been a consistent pro-labor vote, but has not pursued sweeping EFCA-style policy changes via rule-making, as some critics alleged he would. Becker also has recused himself from a number of cases involving SEIU, its locals, and the AFL-CIO, but his critics have urged recusals from more cases involving SEIU and AFL-CIO affiliates.
The NLRB currently has a 3-1 Democratic majority, including Becker. Earlier this month, President Obama nominated Republican NLRB lawyer Terence F. Flynn to the fill the Board’s final vacancy. Flynn’s nomination awaits Senate action.