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Public Statements

Executive Session

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. MCCAIN. Mr. President, I rise in opposition to the nomination of Mr. Craig Becker to be a member of the National Labor Relations Board. Mr. Craig Becker is the first person--I repeat, the first person--nominated for a term on the National Labor Relations Board who comes directly from a labor organization.

Mr. Becker is an officer and associate general counsel of two of our Nation's largest unions, the AFL-CIO and the SEIU. These unions clearly have a substantial interest in the most important decisions presently pending before the Board.

Now, it is one thing to come from private law practice representing employers or unions as clients under the circumstances. It is quite another to come to the Board directly from being an officer and associate general counsel of a labor organization with, as mentioned, substantial interests in multiple matters pending or that will be pending before the Board.

Last week's hearing was clearly necessary, as it revealed that while Mr. Becker will recuse himself for a period of 2 years, and only for 2 years, from those instances when his former employers, the international unions, are a party in a Board proceeding, he did not commit to recuse himself from cases raising issues in which the internationals are involved or impacted, and he did not commit to recuse himself from cases involving the locals of those two international unions.

Parties before the Board, whether union or employer, have a right to a fair and impartial tribunal. The confirmation of an officer and associate general counsel of two of our Nation's largest unions for a term on the National Labor Relations Board will make the appearance of justice and many of the decisions in which he participates impossible to achieve.

Further, to the extent he interprets the act to adopt the policy imperatives of the SEIU or the AFL-CIO and not those expressed by Congress in the act, he will further undermine the Board and sow cynicism in the labor/management community as well as amongst workers whose rights to engage in protected concerted activity or refrain from doing so are protected under the act.

Mr. Becker's writings suggest that he believes the Board can implement provisions of the Employee Free Choice Act into labor law through decisions of the Board. This view suggesting the Board can do what Congress has not authorized should raise concerns with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle.

Let me read a quote from Mr. Becker's colleague, Mr. Stewart Acuff, the AFL-CIO's director of organizing from a February 3, 2010, posting on the Huffington Post. This is just last week.

We are very close to the 60 votes we need. If we are not able to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, we will work with President Obama and Vice President Biden and their appointees to the National Labor Relations Board to change the rules governing forming a union through administrative action to once again allow workers in America access to one of the most basic freedoms in a democracy.

This is clear. This is clear. Mr. Becker's colleague, Mr. Acuff, clearly indicates what Mr. Becker's agenda would be, which would be to violate what is absolutely only a prerogative of the Congress of the United States. This type of bias is why the most respected business groups in America are opposing Mr. Becker's nomination. A statement opposing Mr. Becker's nomination from the National Association of Manufacturers, the Nation's largest industrial trade association, states:

The NAM firmly believes that NLRB members charged with administering our nation's labors laws should protect the principles of fairness and balance that characterize our labor law system. Employees should have the right to information from both employers and union officials and the time to review that information in order to better make important decisions that impact their jobs and families.

Unfortunately, Mr. Becker's interpretation of our labor laws does not reflect these principles and casts serious doubt on his ability to administer our nation's laws in an unbiased manner. We are particularly concerned with Mr. Becker's writings in academic journals that argue that the NLRB should limit the ability of employers to communicate with their employees during union organizing campaigns. Specifically, Mr. Becker has claimed in a 1993 Minnesota Law Review article that ``the core defect in union election law ..... is the employer's status as a party to labor representation proceedings.''

Mr. Becker has asserted views that the NLRB should rewrite union election rules in favor of union organizers. Such policy decisions should only be determined by Congress. The NAM is particularly concerned that if confirmed, Mr. Becker would seek to advance aspects of the jobs-killing Employee Free Choice Act through actions of the NLRB.

From the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, that has only opposed three nominees in the last 30 years, I quote from the U.S. Chamber's statement:

This is only the third time in more than 30 years that the Chamber has opposed a nominee to the Board, most recently the 1993 nomination of William B. Gould. Mr. Becker has written prolifically about the National Labor Relations Act, the law he would be charged with interpreting and enforcing should he be confirmed. Many of the positions taken in his writings are well outside the mainstream and would disrupt years of established precedent and the delicate balance in current labor law. These positions have raised significant concerns in the employer community. Among those concerns are the extent to which Mr. Becker would restrictively interpret employers' free speech rights and the extent to which he would seek to expand the use of intermittent strikes and other forms of work stoppages that disrupt the right of employers to maintain operations during labor disputes.

There may be no one ever nominated to the NLRB more opposed by the business community in the entire history of the NLRB. Are we to believe that the President could not find a single person in America who would not elicit this kind of response due to their bias? Last week, over 500 employers signed a letter opposing Mr. Becker's nomination; 23 major business associations oppose Mr. Becker's nomination.

Mr. Becker's views speak for themselves. But his supporters on the left have explained in full view why they are attempting to seat Mr. Becker. From the authors in the left-leaning publication, The Nation, ``Obama's Pro-Union Nominations to the Labor Relations Board Stalled,'' January 20, 2010:

The battle over nominations to the NLRB, even more than EFCA, may be what really determine the extent of labor's gains under Obama. Should Obama persevere and see his nominations confirmed, there is reason to believe that much of what organized labor hopes to accomplish via EFCA will be realized through the rule-making power of the NLRB.

If there was any doubt about the euphoria on the left, look no further than what Wade Rathke, the chief organizer of Community Organizations International, formally Acorn International, founder and chief organizer of Acorn, and founder and chief organizer of Local 100, Service Employees International Union, recently wrote:

For my money Craig [Becker's] signal contribution has been his work in crafting and executing the legal strategies which have allowed the ..... effective organization of informal workers--home health and home day care--has been the great, exceptional success story within the American labor movement for our generation, leading us to the [forced dues] of perhaps a half-million such workers in unions such as SEIU, AFSCME, CWA, and the AFT.

Becker is ``the key lawyer from the beginning in the early 1980s who was able to piece together the arguments and representation that allowed those of us involved in trying to organize home health care workers in Illinois, Massachusetts, and elsewhere. ..... [Becker's] role was often behind the scenes devising the strategy with the organizer and lawyers, writing the briefs for others to file, and putting all of the pieces together, but he was the go-to-guy on all of this.''

Rathke concludes:

I can remember Keith Kelleher negotiating the subsidy for the SEIU Local 880 in Chicago and always making sure there was the money for the organizers, but that SEIU was also willing to allow access to Craig. .....

I just received this, from Alison Reardon of the Service Employees International Union, who came out with an e-mail today that reads:

Senator, your attendance is crucial to appointing Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board. Please attend Thursday's HELP [executive] Session to report out President Obama's nomination of Craig Becker for Senate confirmation. This is the highest priority for organized labor, and Majority Leader Reid will file Cloture on Friday 2/5, and has assured us [the] Senate will vote to end debate at 5 p.m. Monday 2/8.

So when this President was elected, he said he would govern from the center. If Craig Becker's nomination is approved, we will see the undermining of a longstanding practice in labor law that should be the prerogative of the United States Congress.

If the Congress of the United States, in its wisdom, or ignorance, decides to pass EFCA, then that is an act of Congress. It should not happen. Card check should not happen because of an unelected bureaucracy, and the National Labor Relations Board is the one to do it. Mr. Becker would have that, obviously my conclusion, on his agenda.

I urge my colleagues to vote no on the cloture motion on Mr. Becker's nomination.

I yield the floor.

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