Will Obama Recess-Appoint Becker?

With the nomination of former SEIU associate general counsel Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) most likely dead in the Senate, the question now turns as to whether President Barack Obama will recess-appoint him to the Board. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka have both urged Obama to go the recess appointment route.

Organized labor went all-out for Obama during the 2008 election cycle, so union bosses are likely to put considerable pressure on Obama to recognize their efforts by moving forward on their policy goals, of which Becker’s nomination to the Board is a major one. However, Obama has other priorities, as well, mainly his stalled health care reform effort, for which he will need to spend political capital. Whether Obana is willing to spread that political capital around (to borrow his own phrase) would likely be a difficult decision for him.

Unions are so keen on Becker because of his radical anti-employer views. He has stated that employers should have no say in the unionization of their employees, and that changes to facilitate organizing could be advanced through the NLRB’s adjudicating process. The latter would allow unions to skew the law in favor of unionization, something they have tried but failed to do as the misnamed Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) remains stuck in the Senate. With Massachusetts’ Scott Brown becoming the 41st Republican in the Senate, the chances for the Democrats getting EFCA through a filibuster look even slimmer.

Whatever happens, the defeat of cloture on Becker’s nomination is good news for free enterprise and for the economy. If recess-appointed,  Becker is almost certain to not be confirmed, so would never get to serve a full term. Therefore, whatever havoc he could cause would be limited; some cases would come before him, but others that would have, were he to serve a full term, would not. If Obama were to nominate somebody else, however friendly to organized labor, it is almost impossible to imagine somebody worse than Becker.

For more on Becker, see here.