On March 27, 2010, President Obama announced the unilateral recess appointment of long-time union attorneys Craig Becker and Mark Pearce to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The move demonstrates President Obama's unwavering commitment to organized labor and disregards last month's bipartisan vote in the Senate to reject Becker's appointment to the NLRB.
Becker has been highly controversial and has been associate general counsel for the Service Employees International Union for almost 20 years as well as staff counsel for the AFL-CIO for six years. Becker has drawn sharp criticism from pro-management groups for his radical, anti-employer views, including his position that employers have no "cognizable" interest in the outcome of union elections and should have very little rights during union organizing drives. Many of Becker's critics doubt his ability to serve on the NLRB in an impartial manner.
Like Becker, Pearce has spent his career as an advocate for organized labor, including as a board member on committees for the AFL-CIO.
As recess appointments, Becker and Pearce will serve until the end of this Senate session – the end of 2011. While on the NLRB, Becker and Pearce, along with NLRB Chairwoman Wilma Liebman, are expected to push an aggressive union-friendly agenda.
President Obama's decision only to fill two of the three existing NLRB vacancies pits three Democrat NLRB members against one Republican NLRB member — virtually guaranteeing future pro-union rulings. Interestingly, although Republican Brian Hayes was also nominated earlier by President Obama for the NLRB, the President did not use his recess appointment powers to appoint Hayes along with Becker and Pearce. Some pro-business advocates suggest, in light of the recent passage of health care reform over bipartisan opposition, that President Obama's "snub" of Hayes further illustrates the decidedly partisan direction his administration has taken. In any event, under the NLRB's new composition, businesses should be prepared for the reversal of Bush-era board decisions and a decidedly more labor-friendly approach by the NLRB.