The same day that congressional leaders met in an effort to find bipartisan accord and Obama urged Congress to get beyond "petty politics," petty politics reigned. Republicans, and a few Democrats, successfully blocked the appointment of Craig Becker, a union lawyer, to the National Labor Relations Board.
The scuffle over Becker is part of a more heated conflict between business groups and unions over the Employee Free Choice Act or "card check" bill that would deny companies the right to demand an employee representation election before they have to recognize a union as a collective bargaining agent.
Becker, a lawyer for the AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union, has spoken favorably on card check. Some of his legal writings suggest that its goals could be accomplished by the NLRB without Congress having to pass the legislation.
Those writings upset the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which spent $1 million trying to get Scott Brown elected in Massachusetts as part of its effort to stop the nomination, according to NPR. Of course, two appointees under Bush were pro-business, but Republicans wouldn't see that as a bias.
Under the Bush administration, Democrats complained the president's picks were dismantling union rights, and unions hoped Obama appointments would correct that. But now, the NLRB is having trouble getting anything done. The Becker filibuster holds up the NLRB's business even more. It has postponed hundreds of cases since its been shorthanded. Now we'll have to see if Obama makes good on the threat, also made yesterday, to make recess appointments. After all, wasn't that Bush's favorite method?
-- Monica Potts
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