This past weekend, with the Easter Congressional recess just under way, President Barack Obama wasted no time in announcing the recess appointments of his two proposed Democratic nominees to serve as members on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). One appointment was Buffalo union-side attorney Mark Pearce; the other was the highly controversial Craig Becker from Washington, D.C., who is counsel to the AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union. President Obama decided not to install his Republican nominee, Brian Hayes, as a recess appointment to the NLRB. As a result of these recess appointments, Democrats now occupy three of the four filled seats on the NLRB, with Mr. Hayes awaiting Senate confirmation to occupy the remaining seat. Mr. Becker’s and Mr. Pearce’s appointments will last until the end of the next Congressional session, which coincides with the end of 2011. Notably, the terms of Republican Board Member Peter Schaumber and Republican NLRB General Counsel Ronald Meisburg expire in August 2010. The president, of course, could simply take his time filling Mr. Schaumber’s seat, leaving the Board at three Democratic Members, and let the general counsel’s side of the Agency be run by a career acting general counsel until his administration sees what the makeup of Congress looks like after the 2010 elections. Given Mr. Becker’s published works, which are explicitly pro-union, and his stated belief that the Act can be structurally reformed by Board decision-making and rule-making, it is expected that employers’ rights, particularly during union organizing campaigns, will be greatly diminished through future NLRB decisions. Indeed, Mr. Becker’s stated views in the past are that employers should essentially have no involvement in union organizing elections. As always, we will continue to monitor the NLRB docket and decisions to update you on any legal developments.
Also included in the president’s announcement were two appointments to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Georgetown Law Professor Chai Feldblum and the former Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment Standards under President George W. Bush, Victoria Lipnic.
To learn more about the appointments, please read the White House’s press release.