09.30.2009 0

ALG in the News: Why did Obama appoint Craig Becker to the NLRB?

  • On: 10/23/2009 09:45:05
  • In: Appointments

  • ALG Editor’s Note: In the following featured commentary, the Washington Examiner prints Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson’s latest op-ed.

    Why did Obama appoint Craig Becker to the NLRB?

    By: Bill Wilson
    OpEd Contributor
    October 22, 2009

    Last year, in the midst of campaign season, the Democrats promised the American people a new era of transparency in how the government makes decisions. Based on recent conduct of the U.S. Senate, the public could be forgiven for believing that these promises were never intended to be kept.

    This past Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions met in an executive session to consider President Obama’s nominees to various positions dealing with labor and employment issues. Among those considered were the nominees to the National Labor Relations Board (NRLB).

    Rather than hold public hearings on the qualifications of the nominees, the committee barred the public when they cast their votes. No testimony was allowed. Nor was any chance for public cross-examination.

    The committee’s members just showed up behind closed door for a quick up and down vote. Even worse, two of the three NLRB nominees were approved by the Committee on a voice vote.

    The third, Craig Becker, received a roll call vote, but only after Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, demanded a hearing and roll call vote. The request for a hearing was denied.

    Unfortunately, in Becker’s case, significant issues in his background merit careful inspection. Becker is a longtime union activist who has spent considerable time and energy fighting to reduce union members’ rights in order to give union management more control over workers. He has even argued that workers should not have the right to decide to not have a union.

    His current employers, two large unions, where he serves as associate general counsel, are engaged in a colossal attempt to strip even more rights away from workers, through their support for the so-called Employee Free Choice Act, which would abolish the secret ballot in workplace representation elections.

    Becker’s strong advocacy against union workers and in favor of imposed unionization raises serious questions as to whether he can be neutral when deciding union cases. Adjudicating these cases comprises a significant part of the NRLB’s duties.

    Ironically, Becker acknowledged in a 1993 law review article that elections are the best way to handle unionization issues. Yet, outside of academia, he has advocated the opposite.

    In that article, Becker stated: “In the face of bitter antagonism to its incipient efforts to impose a system of representation on industry, the Board [NLRB] shifted course and resorted exclusively to the most unimpeachable democratic instrument — the election.”

    Elections being the most unimpeachable democratic instrument, then why not continue to use them instead of imposing the card-check system which has the considerable potential for abuse and fraud?

    Questions like this demand answers. Unfortunately, Senate Democrats turned their back on transparency and openness, probably because they don’t want the hard questions explored.

    Some solace can be found knowing that at least one member of the committee tried to bring Becker’s background into the light for public inspection. But his nomination was approved by the committee regardless.

    Becker is not the type of government leader we need. The issues in his background require serious scrutiny in a full, fair, and open public hearing. Denying the public the opportunity to observe this scrutiny was not the proper course of action. And for that reason among many, Becker’s nomination should not be approved should it reach the full Senate.

    The Senate should conduct its work in public for all to see and should not resort to executive meetings to move nominees forward behind the public’s back. So much for openness in government. So much for campaign promises gone awry.

    Bill Wilson is president of Americans for Limited Government.

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