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Craig Becker, nominated for NLRB, rejected by Senate

By Ed O'Keefe

Updated 7:01 p.m. ET
The nomination of Craig Becker, whom President Obama chose to serve on the National Labor Relations Board, died Tuesday after it failed a cloture vote in the Senate.

Senators voted 52 to 33 for end debate on Becker's nomination, but that was not enough to move to a vote. All of the chamber's Republicans in attendance and Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) voted against cloture.

Becker, a Chicago-based associate general counsel for the AFL-CIO and Service Employees International Union, was nominated by Obama last spring. But Republicans were concerned about the prospect of a top labor lawyer helping to mediate disputes between companies and employees.

Later Tuesday the Senate confirmed by unanimous consent Philip Goldberg to serve as assistant secretary of state for intelligence and research and Clifford Stanley to serve as undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness.

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Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) noted during debate that Becker was “the first person nominated” for the board “who comes directly from a labor organization.”

Obama said Tuesday that he may consider recess appointments for some nominees, which he could do as early as next week during the President's Day break.

But Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) cautioned against the move in a statement following the vote.

“He never satisfactorily answered a series of questions that I posed to him – failing to reassure me that his years of service to labor unions would not color his decisions at the NLRB," Hatch said in a statement. The Utah lawmaker was unable to get to Washington in time for Tuesday afternoon's vote.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | February 9, 2010; 5:05 PM ET
Categories:  Congress, Revolving Door  
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Comments

Of course a lawyer right out of a corporation would be just fine with the Republicans.

Posted by: pessimist46 | February 9, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Have Republicans and Nelson had similar objections to corporate lawyers? Perhaps those who've hired union-busting law firms? For that matter, have DEMOCRATS had the nerve to raise similar objections to lawyers clearly on the management side? Anyone got an example?

Thought not.

Posted by: matt731 | February 9, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Someone is *rejected* by the senate when more senators vote against them. See Robert Bork for an example.

Posted by: TJ1743 | February 9, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Ben Nelson should be ashamed of himself. How or why is he a Democrat? He's actually a corporate, Big Business conservative in Democratic clothing. According to Senator St. John McCain, whose flip-flops these days are the envy of 13 year old gymnasts, Becker was the first nominee to come directly from a labor organization. That disqualifies him because..........? He might know what he's talking about and might agree with the mission of the NLRB? That would certainly disqualify any Republican nominee. I wonder how many previous nominees came directly from some multinational corporation?

Posted by: ejs2 | February 9, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

This result is no surprise. Until Obama realizes that the Republicans will not support him on anything, the sorry spectacle of Obama and the Democrats appearing spineless will continue. He is certainly losing his progressive base of which I considered myself a part. Perhaps the problem is his closest advisers; perhaps they need to be replaced.

Posted by: elm2020 | February 9, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

“President Obama has picked a like-minded lawyer culled from the ranks of the Teamsters to chair the NLRB, and another Obama NLRB pick, Craig Becker, is a labor radical who wrote that ‘federal policy should not acknowledge employees’ “choice to remain unrepresented.”’” (Editorial, “Card-Check Is A Trojan Horse ,” National Review, 7/21/09)

“So it should come as no surprise that several high-profile Obama nominees to key positions in the Department of Labor and National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) are longtime Big Labor lobbyists and compulsory unionism hard-liners. But Craig Becker, Mr. Obama’s latest nominee to the NLRB – the quasi-judicial agency that administers federal labor law – is a radical, even by Big Labor’s standards. With just some of the NLRB’s most important functions including overseeing secret ballot elections and resolving unfair labor practices committed by union organizers, it’s easy to see why a militant NLRB is one of Big Labor’s most treacherous accomplices in increasing its radical forced-dues power.” (Mark Mix, “A Radical By The Board Another SEIU thug.

Posted by: atthun | February 9, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Thank goodness Becker was rejected. The last person needed at the NLRB is a AFL-CIO, SEIU Chicago hack thug. Good riddance. Be afrain of these Chicago thugs America, be very afraid.

Posted by: Christian1941 | February 9, 2010 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Why are right-wing "goons" so fond of throwing around the term "thugs?" It's getting pretty old and spent. Be afraid of "Chicago thugs"? Ridiculous. America should be very afraid of the multimillionaire CEO's and the rest of the free trade claptrap "thugs" who routinely steal American jobs and ship them to China.

Posted by: ejs2 | February 9, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse

More obstruction from the party of no. Why don't the all just leave office since they don't want to act.......Republicans are seeing their power come to an end!

Posted by: stevensp1 | February 9, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Time for tit for tat. There were three nominees in that list, so pick the republicans and flatly vote him down, 51 or better against. Every time The republicans balk at a Democratic nominee, (and this board is in fact nominated that way) reject the next Republican.

Posted by: ceflynline | February 9, 2010 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Time for tit for tat. There were three nominees in that list, so pick the republicans and flatly vote him down, 51 or better against. Every time The republicans balk at a Democratic nominee, (and this board is in fact nominated that way) reject the next Republican.

Posted by: ceflynline | February 9, 2010 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Blanche Lincoln and Ben Nelson are losers. Get them out of the Senate and fill those seats with Republicans instead of hypocrites who pretend to be Democrats. DNC don't give them a cent. Lincoln has to be the worst Senator in the Senate, a complete phony.

Posted by: paulnolan97 | February 9, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Why the heck shouldn't union leaders have an opportunity to serve on the NLRB, does anyone believe that Management is not represented? Are you kidding me. What a nazi, fascist government we have against workers and unions. The republicans and democratic "moderates" are like tyrants who deny people a say in their life and future.

Posted by: paulnolan97 | February 9, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse

I think that the real subplot here is that every time the federal gov't in DC shuts down, the cost to the taxpayer is $100M. Or so I've heard from one Ed O'Keefe.

Posted by: jacket96 | February 9, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Apparently the true objection was due to his support of "card check" and apparent willingness to impose it through rulings on the NLRB. That would allow Johnny Friendly-style union bosses to force workers to sign cards (no secret ballot) which, if the union intimidated a majority of workers into signing, would force unionization without a vote.

Posted by: Nemo24601 | February 9, 2010 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Someone is *rejected* by the senate when more senators vote against them. See Robert Bork for an example.
Posted by: TJ1743

Well put!!! Kennedy, Biden, Leahy (all good Catholics, wink) blocked Bork!!!

Posted by: houston123 | February 9, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Okay, reality check time. The big scary card check specter that everyone's bellyaching over is a legal (and widely used) alternative under our current labor law. (The controversy is over whether to allow employees to choose between card check and secret ballot election, since this decision is currently left to the employer).

The whole point of card check, however, is that it's a process that takes place beyond the NLRB purview. The Board has zero power to impose card check. Becker understands this, and has explained it *repeatedly.* Card check in this context is a red herring.

Posted by: Aelcee | February 9, 2010 7:08 PM | Report abuse

National LABOR Relations Board. So why should labor NOT be represented on this board, Oh, I know the people who believe workers should have some say in the way we work are socialist/commies and we are a nation of the corporation. Corporate lawyers are much better at making sure the workers know their place, i.e. sit down and shut up.

Posted by: hamkast | February 9, 2010 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Well put!!! Kennedy, Biden, Leahy (all good Catholics, wink) blocked Bork!!!

Posted by: houston123

You totally missed my point. Bork wasn't blocked. There was a full vote on the senate floor for his nomination. It was rejected. Fewer than half the members present voted for it. Today, more than half the members present voted fort the nomination.

Posted by: TJ1743 | February 9, 2010 7:22 PM | Report abuse

Shall we count all the management reps who have dominated the NLRB the past 30 years?

Perhaps the most notorious was the union buster Robert Battista, for years the chair of the NLRB under Bush, whose credentials included being the top management lawyer advising the Detroit newspapers how to bust the newspaper unions during a major strike.

Bet McCain didn't have any trouble voting to confirm him.

Posted by: gschwartz1 | February 9, 2010 7:33 PM | Report abuse

I'd hardly call a majority voting for him a "rejection." You reporters are part of the problem when you use language like that.

Posted by: Elkay1 | February 9, 2010 7:38 PM | Report abuse

I think the GOP believes they have a solemn duty to protect corporations from an NLRB with any teeth. This is one area that their party could clearly care less about actual voters.

Posted by: Nymous | February 9, 2010 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Liberal laborites want everyone to believe that there are two sides on the "factory floor". Us vs. Them; union vs. company. The truth is that if you are hired into a union environment there are three sides: you, your employer and the collective bargaining unit. Your interests aren't the first for the company nor the union, and only a fool believes otherwise.

Posted by: JohnnyGee | February 9, 2010 8:09 PM | Report abuse

Becker's orientation was probably too one-sided for him to be an independent board member but that horse was out of the barn many years ago. I'd be OK with this if the rejecting side would agree that the NLRB should consist of a neutral or independent members; it hasn't.

Posted by: ajlerner1 | February 9, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

What BS. How many corporate stooges have served in that position?

How about Elaine Choa? Heritage Foundation Fellow from 1996 until she was selected by Bush. There's a real labor-friendly resume.

Ben Nelson is a first class jerk. I hope he gets waxed by some tea-bagger next time around. At least it won't feel like getting mugged by your Grandma every time he casts a vote.

Posted by: st50taw | February 9, 2010 9:20 PM | Report abuse

Since when does garnering 52 votes in a 100 vote chamber constitute the rejection of a nominee? More Republican nonsense being passed off by the mainstream media...

Posted by: kindeman1 | February 9, 2010 9:26 PM | Report abuse

I think that the real subplot here is that every time the federal gov't in DC shuts down, the cost to the taxpayer is $100M. Or so I've heard from one Ed O'Keefe.

Posted by: jacket96
********************************************
When the residential roads aren't plowed and the state DOT's are begging people to stay home, what's your brilliant solution?

Posted by: st50taw | February 9, 2010 9:31 PM | Report abuse

Congratulations to Ben Nelson and Blanche Lincoln for listening to their constituents. Why are people giving a free pass to the 15 (52-33) who didn't have the courage to vote? Now we are finally seeing change you can believe in!

Posted by: freddy666 | February 9, 2010 9:49 PM | Report abuse

I did not vote for Obama, but he is my president. IF GOP does not act like a major party, we should reduce them to a minor party as they wish. Holding my president up so he cannot get work done is damaging to our nation. This won't sit well with this Independent, and GOP will get the response they deserve in November.

Posted by: dummy4peace | February 9, 2010 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Yet another filibuster in the Republican drive to beat their own all-time record for filibusters in the 2007-2008 session.
Bill Frist, Senate Majority leader in 2004 said the filibuster "is nothing less than a formula for tyranny by the minority... A nominee is entitled to a vote. Vote them up; vote them down.... If we don't like them, we can vote against them. That is the honest thing to do.”

The Republicans' all time record for filibusters is also an all time record for hypocrisy.

Posted by: twm1 | February 9, 2010 10:24 PM | Report abuse

Billions for bankers, but a person from organized labor on the NLRB? Not from these Republicans. And they're able to block it with 39 per cent of the votes cast (52-33).

They are *really* feeling their oats, and a large part of what makes it possible is the aversion to unions of voters who would be better off if they belonged to one.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | February 9, 2010 10:48 PM | Report abuse

By the way, I would like to request more competence and less arrogance from the Administration. While this nomination was going down the tubes the White House Press Secretary was ridiculing Sarah Palin by having the word "hope" written on the palm of his left hand during a press conference.

A politically competent administration wouldn't have let that happen. An administration that was competent at working congress would have gotten this nomination through.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | February 9, 2010 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Modern day unions = death of a company over time. UAW, United Steel Workers and a host of others have driven companies OUT of, not into this country. Jobs Banks for UAW helped drain the automaker. Whenever you pay someone 95% of their pay when they are laided off was and still is insane. GM sells way more cars overseas than they do here.
Card Check is just another way to muscle into a business and destroy it.SEIU has driven the cost of services up and the SEIU proudly proclaims that they have a high number of illegals in the Union. How is that working for all you who are unemployed.
Unions serve what purpoe today! Don't say to drive up wages because that dog won't bark as many unions are for Amnesty that will provide biz with tens of millions of cheap labor. NO! What it is all about is Union DUES for the fatcats who run the unions.

Posted by: usmc1969 | February 9, 2010 11:08 PM | Report abuse

It's certainly true that if you make an American union shop compete with Chinese or Vietnamese workers in the same industry who risk jail or death for asking for the free speech and the right to vote, let alone the right to form a union, the Chinese and Vietnamese workers will win out.

This is what the Republican party, and the Clinton/Free Trade wing of the Republican party, support.

Never mind that it's spitting on the grave of every American soldier who died trying to keep Viet Nam free.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | February 9, 2010 11:19 PM | Report abuse

Modern day unions = death of a company over time. UAW, United Steel Workers and a host of others have driven companies OUT of, not into this country Posted by: usmc1969

--

As usual, empty assertions for which no evidence is provided. The implication is that the big corporate bosses have had nothing to do with the failure of their companies, and were all innocent victims of their vicious employees. There is, however, a hidden truth in this. China has a competitive advantage in international markets because the Chinese regime represses all independent unions and all other independent organizations and dissent. Apparently, capitalist corporate bosses love this. The implication seems to be that the US should forget democratic principles and imitate the Chinese regime.

Posted by: twm1 | February 9, 2010 11:25 PM | Report abuse

Thank goodness. This clown would have put the U.S. on the fast track to an even further reduced global competitiveness.

Posted by: jacket96 | February 10, 2010 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Kennedy, Biden and Leahy - "good Catholics". You've got to be kidding. Just listen to Patrick Kennedy, son of Ted when he rants anti Catholic drivel.

Posted by: JGIB | February 10, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Kennedy, Biden and Leahy - "good Catholics". You've got to be kidding. Just listen to Patrick Kennedy, son of Ted when he rants anti Catholic drivel.

Posted by: JGIB | February 10, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

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