Former Service Employees International Union (SEIU) associate general counsel Craig Becker, who has been nominated to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) by President Obama, could make drastic changes in labor law to favor unionization, were he confirmed and appointed to the Board. Critics of Becker - mostly conservative and libertarian - have made this argument. Senate Republicans oppose his nomination. But don't take from us. Now two pro-union lawyers, writing in The Nation, acknowledge the far-reaching nature of the changes Becker could make. Steven Hill, of the New America Foundation, and labor attorney Dmitri Iglitzin note:
Most legal scholars and labor experts believe that the NLRB has the authority to enact procedural changes that could, among other things:
•?drastically shorten the time frame for holding union elections;
•?eliminate cumbersome pre-election procedures that allow employers to dispute who is eligible to vote in such elections;
•?require the employer to turn over employee names, addresses and phone numbers early in any union organizing drive;
•?require equal access to both workers and the workplace for unions during campaigns; and
•?increase the penalties on companies that violate their workers' legal rights.
The NLRB even could make it easier for workers to unionize based on a card check showing of majority support--just as the EFCA [Employee Free Choice Act] would.
Such changes could be made a radical enough Board member, so what kind of member is Becker likely to make? Hill and Iglitzin write:
Becker has argued that employers "should be stripped of any legally cognizable interest in their employees' election of representatives." In practice, this means that employers could no longer oppose union organizing drives through NLRB or other administrative proceedings but would instead become mere bystanders in that process, removing one of the most powerful tools in the employer arsenal of antiunion strategies. It is because of these types of opinions that the Wall Street Journal has called Becker "labor's secret weapon" and accused him of wanting to "rig the rules to favor unionization."
The stakes are high indeed. As the nation claws out of recession, the last thing we need is a more burdensome labor law regime hindering job growth.
For more on labor, see here.
For more on EFCA, see here.