Senate Committee Preparing to Move Controversial Labor Nominee Without a Hearing

Oct 15, 2009

Earlier today, a coalition of 28 business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, sent a letter to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions asking for a hearing on the nomination of Craig Becker to be a member of the National Labor Relations Board. As stated in the letter:

Mr. Becker has written prolifically about the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), 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 concern in the employer community, for example, the extent to which he would restrictively interpret employer’s free speech rights. The public deserves an opportunity to hear from Mr. Becker directly as to whether he still believes in the positions espoused in his writings or whether his views on these issues have changed over time.

The issues raised by Mr. Becker’s writings are not the only issues that could be fleshed out in a hearing. As noted by an editorial in the Wall Street Journal this morning:

Mr. Becker also won’t give a clear answer about his role in preparing several pro-labor executive orders issued by President Obama shortly after inauguration. Mr. Becker’s name was found in at least one of the documents, suggesting he had written it. … The White House has made a public show of banning lobbyists from certain Administration jobs, but it let a paid union operative draft government documents benefiting unions.

We’re not sure what role, if any, Mr. Becker had in drafting the executive order, but it strikes us as a fair question to bring up in a hearing and we’d like to hear the answer to this and a number of other important questions raised by the nomination.

Unfortunately, late today, the Committee announced that it has scheduled consideration of Mr. Becker’s nomination for Wednesday, October 21, without a hearing.

The NLRB is an important agency and it should be fully staffed. However, nominations should not be rubber-stamped. Especially when so many important questions have gone unanswered.

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