Labor group praises Obama for appointing Becker, Pearce

A top labor group quickly praised the president on Saturday for using his recess appointment powers to place Craig Becker and Mark Pearce on the National Labor Relations Board.

While Republican lawmakers are likely to balk at President Barack Obama's decision, American Rights at Work heralded the White House's move as an example of "strong leadership."

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"The President's five predecessors -- including George W. Bush -- used the same power, and today's exercise was long overdue," said Kimberly Freeman Brown, the executive director of American Rights at Work. "America's workers have been struggling to make ends meet in the worst economy since the Great Depression, and have needed a fully functioning NLRB to mediate their claims for better wages, benefits and other rights for almost two years."

"While there is much more that the Obama Administration can do to advance the cause of labor law reform, today's appointments were a very good start," she added.

Most pro-labor groups are likely to rejoice at the Obama administration's decision Saturday to use recess appointments to fill 15 federal vacancies, especially two on the National Labor Relations Board.

That panel, which adjudicates employer and employee disputes, has functioned without a quorum since 2007 and seemed at risk of an indefinite shut down by the Supreme Court.

But unions will celebrate Becker's appointment, in particular, because he is widely viewed as a key labor ally. For the most part, Becker has been a staunch supporter of the White House and its previous push for the Employee Free Choice Act, better known as card-check legislation -- a position that prompted a number of Republicans to try to scuttle his nomination last year.

Consequently, not all on Saturday were pleased by the news. The Workforce Fairness Institute (WFI), which opposes those proposed rules to simplify the unionization process, said the president's recess appointments had "traded away any credibility his administration might have on the economy."

"Craig Becker’s nomination to the National Labor Relations Board will only result in higher unemployment and more burdens on small businesses due to his willingness to enact administratively portions of the Employee ‘Forced’ Choice Act," WFI said in a statement.

"Let’s be frank about what Becker’s recess appointment really is; it’s a payoff to union bosses at the expense of America’s employers and employees," the group continued. "Our nation’s job creators will not soon forget that the country’s chief executive turned his back on them in favor of rewarding political patrons advocating job-killing policies.”