• In an address to the AFL-CIO Executive Council, Vice President Joe Biden reassured union leaders of the Obama administration’s support of organized labor. Biden promised that the administration would "restore" the National Labor Relations Board and enact the proposed Employee Free Choice Act, and stated that economic programs will begin creating 100,000 jobs a month by the spring, including those in new industries such as renewable energy, high speed rail, wind turbines, and nuclear power plants.
  • President Obama appointed SEIU president Andy Stern to serve on the newly created National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform ("Commission"). The Commission will have 18 members and is charged with making recommendations to Congress on reducing the deficit. Stern pledged to represent ordinary working Americans and work to restore financial discipline. Several groups criticized Stern’s appointment, arguing that union leaders enjoyed disproportionate influence with the Obama administration.
  • Allison Beck was named a deputy director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. Beck retired as general counsel of the International Association of Machinists in December 2009, and previously served as an appellate court attorney for the National Labor Relations Board and a legislative aide for the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare’s Special Subcommittee on Human Resources. She will be responsible for FMCS’ national and international programs.
  • The South Dakota state legislature voted to amend the South Dakota constitution to include a provision guaranteeing the right to vote by secret ballot in any election for public office, referendum, or authorization of employee representation. South Dakota voters will decide whether to approve the amendment in November. The amendment is a response to the proposed federal Employee Free Choice Act ("EFCA"), which would amend the National Labor Relations Act to allow employees to obtain union representation by a majority signing of union authorization cards, instead of majority election vote. The EFCA is currently stalled in Congress.
  • The AFL-CIO carried out a two-week campaign designed to create support for a jobs program. The campaign included more than 200 events, such as rallies and demonstrations, and targeted Wall Street investment banks, including Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, and JP Morgan Chase. AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka stated that the campaign is intended to pressure banks into paying their fair share to restore jobs, as well as to stop fighting financial reform and start lending to communities and small businesses. AFL-CIO community affiliate Working America is also organizing a campaign protesting the Wall Street bailouts.
  • In a speech at the legislative conference of the International Association of Fire Fighters, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) discussed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as well as their support for firefighters’ collective bargaining rights. Solis emphasized her support for unions and told the firefighters that “[y]ou have a friend” in the Department of Labor. Van Hollen stated that Democrats were working for passage of the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act, H.R. 413, which would ensure that firefighters and other state and local public safety officers had collective bargaining rights.
  • President Obama filled 15 posts through recess appointments, including appointing Democrats Craig Becker and Mark Pearce to the National Labor Relations Board. The NLRB is designed to have five members, but it has been operating with only two since early 2008. The recess appointments will expire at the end of the 2011 congressional session. Becker was an SEIU associate general counsel, an AFL-CIO staff counsel, and a law professor, and Pearce was a partner with a union side law firm, Creighton, Pearce, Johnsen & Giroux in Buffalo, N.Y. All 41 Republican senators had signed a letter to the president urging him not to make recess appointments, while 132 House Democrats signed a letter supporting the recess appointments of Becker and Pearce.