• President Obama has resubmitted to the Senate the nomination of attorney Craig Becker for the National Labor Relations Board. Becker, who has been an associate general counsel for the Service Employees International Union for 18 years, was previously nominated by President Obama in April 2009, but at the end of the 2009 session the Senate sent Becker’s nomination back to the White House, indicating that one or more senators objected to including him on the list of pending nominations that were held over under a unanimous consent agreement. Becker’s nomination is opposed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the Wall Street Journal editorial board.
  • The Republican members of the House Education and Labor Committee sponsored a forum entitled “A Culture of Favoritism: The Obama Administration’s Labor Agenda” on January 21, 2010. Speakers at the forum, including former labor secretary Elaine Chao, pointed to the Obama administration’s alleged favoritism toward unions as a primary reason economic recovery has stalled.
  • In response to recent declines in Chicago’s trade show and convention revenues, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley announced their support for proposed legislation that would impose sweeping labor changes at the city’s major convention facilities. Proposed legislative changes include language that would establish the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority as a “public employer.” Status as a public employer would give the MPEA increased leverage to negotiate with trade show workers and the authority to prohibit strikes. Other proposed legislative changes would reduce the number of bargaining units at the MPEA facilities and eliminate “area bargaining agreements” negotiated beyond the control of MPEA.
  • In a speech at the National Press Club, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka called on Congress to pass legislation to help create millions of jobs, to reject the excise tax on high-cost (“Cadillac”) health care plans that has been proposed in the Senate health care overhaul legislation, and to pass the proposed Employee Free Choice Act. Trumka warned politicians that given the current high levels of unemployment, workers will not stand for “tokenism,” and that passage of the Employee Free Choice Act is necessary to “reduce the inequality which is undermining our prospects for stable economic growth.”
  • President Obama met with labor leaders to discuss the proposed excise tax on high-cost (“Cadillac”) health care plans that has been proposed in the Senate health care overhaul legislation. The Senate bill includes a funding provision that would place a 40 percent excise tax on the value of workers’ health insurance above minimums of $8,500 yearly for an individual and $23,000 for a family. Big Labor is adamantly opposed to the tax and supports instead the House health care bill which would be funded by a surcharge on wealthy Americans. While President Obama had voiced his support for the proposed excise tax, after meeting with Trumka, he announced that he had agreed to postpone until 2017 implementation of the tax on "Cadillac" health insurance benefits that were part of union contracts.