As the Left barrels forward with its agenda to remake the United States, Sen. John McCain has interrupted President Obama’s latest payoff to the Shadow Party. McCain announced Wednesday he would place a hold on Obama’s appointment of Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Becker is a longtime lawyer for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which donated $27.8 million to Obama’s 2008 campaign. McCain described Becker as “probably the most controversial nominee that I have seen in a long time” – and that from an administration that has nominated John Holdren, Van Jones, and Carol Browner. Becker has never justified compulsory abortion, blamed a natural disaster on President Bush, or joined an international socialist organization. But he has written that “workers should not be able to choose against having a union”; that employers should have no right to contest fraudulent union elections; and that the NLRB could implement certain portions of Big Labor’s card check proposal even without Congressional approval. Becker took as his own the words of Robert Hoxie, that “unions are ‘formed to escape the evils of individualism.’” And, through a Chicagoland chapter of SEIU, Becker has ties to ACORN and Rod Blagojevich that demand probing.
McCain took the action after Iowa Democrat Tom Harkin ignored his letter calling for Harkin’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee to investigate Becker. Obama tapped the former UCLA professor, AFL-CIO lawyer, and current assistant general counsel to SEIU for one of three empty seats on the NLRB, which Congressional Democrats blocked President Bush from filling the last two years of his term. The board is the federal overseer of all labor disputes and sets rules for the formation of unions. Becker would radically restructure these elections to favor organized labor, his employer, one of Obama’s chief source of political donations, and an invaluable constituency of the Democratic Party. And in true “progressive” spirit, he vows to do so for your own good.
We Are the Labor Borg; You Will be Assimilated
According to critics, Becker’s views are simple: no American employed anywhere should have the right to resist being part of a labor union. He has written, “At first blush it might seem fair to give workers the choice to remain unrepresented.” But this is not so. “Just as U.S. citizens cannot opt against having a congressman, workers should not be able to choose against having a union as their monopoly-bargaining agent.” Becker approvingly quoted Sen. Robert F. Wagner’s belief that “industrial democracy” is “essential to the preservation of the republican form of government”; thus, a non-unionized employee is no different than a “non-voting member of a society.”
To end workers’ self-imposed disenfranchisement, Becker considered doing away with union elections altogether, or instituting a “reform” to “mandate employee representation, and the question posed on the ballot would simply be which representative.” In a 1993 Minnesota Law Review article he rejected both possibilities on the grounds that “each would require fundamental statutory revision unlikely in the foreseeable future.” Instead, he proposes to skew all elections toward the unions, taking a blasé attitude toward election fraud. Present law allows for unions to be formed after a secret ballot election held at the workplace, where both management and labor may appoint observers to guard against electoral abuses.
Becker wants to change this, from top to bottom. He believes the NLRB should strip companies of the right to speak out against unionization at work, bar them from preventing – or even protesting – voting fraud, and deny them nearly all right to petition the NLRB. Management should not be allowed to talk about the dangers of unionization on company grounds, as the law has allowed since the 1930s, because in his view employees constitute a “captive audience,” yet he raises no objection to aggressive union organizers stalking workers from the parking lot to their homes. Becker is remarkably straightforward in his view that “employers should be stripped of any legally cognizable interest in their employees’ election of representatives,” and that “employers should have no right to raise questions concerning voter eligibility or campaign conduct.”
Under his proposed rules, ineligible voters – possibly full-time union employees who do not work for the company – could show up on election day, cast their proud ballots for SEIU, and if the firm ever found out, it would have no means of recourse. He argues entrepreneurs lack “the formal status either of candidates vying to represent employees or of voters”; they simply exist to pay the wages unions demand. Should they object, Becker advocates curtailing businesses’s right to contest NLRB rulings in federal circuit court.
Although Becker has proposed heavy-handed “reforms” that would force many anti-union workers to cough up union dues, he has argued these provisions could be accomplished “with almost no alteration of the statutory framework,” as his views simply “give effect to existing guarantees.” He is now biding his time until confirmation. When Orrin Hatch asked, in writing, whether still held to these beliefs, Becker replied he would “maintain an open mind” about whether they “should be implemented in any manner.”
He also justifies unions’s more extreme protests. He would allow unions to call intermittent strikes, which some call “grievance strikes” – sudden, brief, and rolling work stoppages that momentarily paralyze a company. Federal law does not protect such strikes, but Becker would. Critics similary charge, with the advent of the Employee Free Choice Act (“card-check”), Becker has become more radicalized. Former NLRB chair William Gould has expressed concern Becker will implement card check provisions even if the act is never becomes law (which it likely will not).
ACORN’s Good Man
Sometimes a man’s supporters and detractors tell you as much about him as his record. One Becker-backer wrote that he had “crossed paths with Craig for more than 20 years” and found Becker to be “a secret weapon for workers,” making his appointment “a big win no matter how you bake it.” That supporter was Wade Rathke, founder of ACORN and co-founder and chair of the Tides Center. Coincidentally, Rather happens to be an international board member of SEIU. (An ecumenical leftist, he also has ties to the AFL-CIO.) Becker worked with Chicago SEIU local 880 and on the issue of organizing home health care workers in Illinois; six days after the union donated $200,000 to then-Governor Rod Blagojevich, he signed a law that nearly doubled the local’s membership and, according to one source, tripled its income (from $7 million to $21 million). At the same time, SEIU local 880 funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars in union dues to ACORN front groups. Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment.com has discovered that in 2000, SEIU 880’s accounting was handled by Dale Rather, who embezzled at least $1 million from ACORN. Accounting duties were later taken over by Wade Rathke.
Incidentally, this week Illinois home health care workers voted – in a secret election – and defeated the attempted unionization by a two-thirds vote.
Becker’s ties to a notorious embezzler, the head of a group some in Congress contend is structured as a criminal enterprise, and a disgraced governor demand a thorough investigation.
Obama’s Big Labor for Big Labor
The appointment is one of President Obama’s latest paybacks to Big Labor. SEIU President Andrew Stern, who now enjoys unprecedented access to the Obama administration, is a charter member of the Shadow Party, having sunk $5 million of SEIU’s money into the Democracy Alliance. The alliance, a group of far-Left political investors led by George Soros, made its home at SEIU headquarters in Washington, D.C. Stern also took a seat on the executive council of Americans Coming Together, Soros’s get-out-the-vote organ.
Out of ideological kinship and electoral debt, Obama began paying the union back. He signed a series of executive orders – drafted by Becker, who was still employed by SEIU and the AFL-CIO at the time – to reserve federal funds for unionized contractors. Obama repealed a Bush-era proposal to slow the rate at which OSHA and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) draft fiat regulations. His MSHA head, a 20-year leader in the United Mine Workers, blamed the 2006 Sago mine disaster on President George W. Bush. And Obama’s hostile takeover put the United Auto Workers in the driver’s seat of General Motors.
Socialized Medicine: Look for the Union Label
The unions, meanwhile, have become part of the president’s permanent army. SEIU, AFL-CIO, AFSCME, Change to Win, UAW, the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, Communication Workers of America, and the United Food and Commercial Workers union are the main players in the Soros-funded Health Care for America Now! (HCAN), the national “grassroots” organization protesting for socialized medicine. Some 18,000 union members crowded common citizens out of town hall meetings late this summer. Labor leadership has pledged to keep up the pressure on weary Blue Dog Democrats to include the “public option” in the final health care bill, allowing Obama to socialize one-sixth of the U.S. economy without expending his own political capital in the process.
The Alinskyite Backlash Begins
Were it not for John McCain’s action this week, Becker would surely have coasted to Senate confirmation. The day McCain placed the hold, the Senate HELP committee voted 15-8 to approve him. Politico notes the Obama White House has widened its smear campaign beyond talk radio and Fox News; it is now trying to “neuter” the Chamber of Commerce. (One method is by going to the Chamber’s constituent members, under the pretext of avoiding a meeting with “lobbyists.” This is rich, considering Obama let an SEIU lobbyist outline his executive orders on labor.) AP reporter Sam Hananel happily picked up the White House talking points, noting McCain’s “remarks echoed complaints by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and dozens of business groups that claim Becker’s views are ‘out of the mainstream.’” Nowhere does Hananel reveal the depths of Becker’s radicalism. Look for the White House to paint McCain as an obstructionist doing the bidding of evil corporate tycoons. The reality is the reverse: virtually the only objective Obama has successfully carried out is implementing key portions of SEIU’s agenda.
For that kind of truth, you have to rely on talk radio, Fox News, and the Chamber of Commerce.
1. Michelle Malkin. Culture of Corruption,pp. 198-99.