Ben Nelson Helps GOP Block Obama NLRB Nominee

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) will join with Republicans to block cloture on a nominee for the National Labor Relations Board that President Obama has sent to the Senate. In a statement yesterday, Nelson lashed out at the nominee, Craig Becker, saying he’ll “pursue an aggressive personal agenda” on the board.

Becker’s nomination has been controversial among conservatives and Republicans since it was announced. The right views Becker’s past as an SEIU lawyer as a harbinger that he’ll take pro-labor stances that Republicans and business leaders have long viewed with trepidation.

In his statement yesterday, Nelson lent his voice to those concerns, citing Becker’s past statements that Republicans have used in their campaign against the nominee.Nelson’s full statement:

February 8, 2010 – Today, Nebraska’s Senator Ben Nelson announced that he will oppose a cloture motion to proceed to a vote and will vote no on the nomination of Craig Becker to be a board member of the National Labor Relations Board. The five-member board serves as a quasi-judicial body in deciding cases under the National Labor Relations Act.

“Mr. Becker’s previous statements strongly indicate that he would take an aggressive personal agenda to the NLRB, and that he would pursue a personal agenda there, rather than that of the Administration,” said Senator Nelson. “This is of great concern, considering that the Board’s main responsibility is to resolve labor disputes with an even and impartial hand. In addition, the nominee’s statements fly in the face of Nebraska’s Right to Work laws, which have been credited in part with our excellent business climate that has attracted employers and many good jobs to Nebraska. Considering these matters, I will oppose the upcoming cloture motion and the nomination.”

Among some of the previous statements by the nominee that raise concerns for the senator:

• In a 1993 Minnesota Law Review article Becker wrote: “On account of the asymmetry between representation elections in the workplace and the polity, Part IV [of the article] concludes that employers should have no legally sanctioned role in union elections.”

• In the same article Becker asserted that employees should be compelled to join labor unions: “…it could be argued that industrial democracy should be made more like political democracy by altering the nature of the choice presented to workers in union elections. Such a reform would mandate employee representation, and the question posed on the ballot would simply be which representative.”

• Becker has expressed his intent to limit the ability of employees to reject union representation: “At first blush it might seem fair to give workers the choice to remain unrepresented. But, in providing workers this ‘non-representation’ option, U.S. labor law grants employers a powerful incentive.” [New Labor Forum Fall/Winter 1998.]