On Friday, April 24th, President Obama announced his intention to nominate two members to the National Labor Relations Board: Craig Becker, SEIU counsel; and Mark Gaston Pearce, a Buffalo union lawyer. Their full bios are available in the news release, "President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts." (Note to White House: The NLRB is NOT statutorily part of the Administration. It's an independent federal agency, for which the President gets to appoint the majority of board members, three out of the five.)
Seth Borden, an attorney with McKenna, Long and Aldridge and a blogger on the Employee Free Choice Act, has done a rundown on rulings that may be reconsidered once the NLRB switches to a Democratic-dominated, pro-labor board. He observes:
Employers wondering what decisions might be considered high priority for such attention should look to the many Board decisions issued during September 2007. Issued in the closing weeks of then Chairman Battista's term, many of these decisions split as 3-2 votes. Each modified existing Board law, and each contained a strong dissent by the current Chairwoman. They provided fodder for highly critical congressional hearings to condemn what some saw as a partisan anti-labor shift by the Board. Chairwoman [Wilma] Liebman testified at one such hearing, and provided her insight on some of these cases.
The potential cases Borden cites are:
In Dana Corp., 351 NLRB No. 28 (Sept. 29, 2007), the Board modified its recognition-bar doctrine.
In Toering Electric Co., 351 NLRB No. 18 (Sept. 29, 2007), the Board significantly altered its standards in "salting" cases.
In Jones Plastic & Engineering, 351 NLRB No. 11 (Sept. 27, 2007), the Board clarified that advising strike replacement workers that they are employed "at-will" does not undermine their status as permanent replacements, entitled to continued employment at the conclusion of a strike.
Finally, in BE&K Construction Co., 351 NLRB No. 29 (Sept. 29, 2007), the Board held that the filing and maintenance of a reasonably based lawsuit does not violate the National Labor Relations Act, regardless of the employer's motive for bringing the suit.
Follow-up post: What To Expect From President Obama's NLRB (Part 2)
Over at Shopfloor.org we've noted that Becker was a member of the Obama transition team (the major unions all got a person) who apparently drafted one of the President's first, pro-labor executive orders. A union lawyer doing the White House's work? Why wouldn't that be a news story?