Labor lawyer Craig Becker tried to allay Republican objections today to his nomination for the National Labor Relations Board, telling a Senate committee that he would leave behind his past advocacy for unions.
"The ability to be fair and impartial is, of course, absolutely critical to the credibility of the board,” said Becker, who has represented unions and has taught labor law as a professor. He added, “I completely understand that, if I’m confirmed, the role I will play will be different from those roles.”
Becker (pictured above) was testifying before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Tuesday. The committee endorsed Becker last year, but Republicans returned his nomination to the White House in December, and he had to be renominated by President Barack Obama. Democrats scheduled this rare hearing in the case of an NLRB nominee in hopes of building more support.
Becker touted letters he has received from management-side lawyers who support his nomination, including two Chicago attorneys: Richard Marcus, a partner at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, and Joseph Gagliardo, managing partner of Laner, Muchin, Dombrow, Becker, Levin and Tominberg. Becker said he would recuse himself from any NLRB matters that involve the Service Employees International Union, where he has been associate general counsel, for two years after confirmation.
It was not clear that his overtures had an immediate impact. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) noted that several business groups, including the National Association of Manufacturers, oppose Becker. McCain also said he isn’t satisfied with Becker’s recusal pledge, though he did not say what additional steps he thinks Becker should take.
Democrats rallied behind Becker, saying that experience as an advocate shouldn’t hold back a nominee. “It’s not unusual that someone who’s represented labor would be appointed to the NLRB,” said Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.).
The committee is scheduled to vote again on Becker’s nomination Thursday, likely sending it to the full Senate.
Photo by Diego M. Radzinschi