President Obama has announced his plans to nominate Craig Becker and Mark Pearce as board members of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB or Board). The five-member Board serves as a quasi-judicial body in deciding cases under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Board Members are appointed to five-year terms, with the term of one member expiring each year. The Board traditionally consists of three members selected by the party controlling the White House, and two from the other party. Becker and Pearce, along with Chairwoman Liebman, would constitute the three Democratic-selected seats. Assuming President Obama follows precedent, only one Republican Board seat will remain vacant. When and how that seat will be filled is not clear.
Currently, Craig Becker serves as Associate General Counsel to both the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the American Federation of Labor & Congress of Industrial Organizations. Becker was part of Obama’s transition team, acting as a member of the Agency Review Team overseeing the Department of Labor. According to an entry posted on the National Association of Manufacturers’ ShopFloor, Becker is believed to have authored one of the labor-related executive orders issued on January 31, Notification of Employee Rights Under Federal Labor Laws. (pdf)
Becker earned both his law school and undergraduate degrees from Yale in 1981 and 1978, respectively. For the past 27 years, Becker has taught and practiced labor law. In 2007, Becker represented the plaintiff in Long Island Care at Home, Ltd. v. Coke, 127 S.Ct. 2339 (2007), in which he argued (unsuccessfully) that the Supreme Court should overturn a Labor Department regulation exempting home-care aides employed by third-party companies from federal minimum wage and overtime coverage. Becker has also written a number of labor-related articles, including Representing Low-Wage Workers in the Absence of a Class: The Peculiar Case of Section 16 of the Fair Labor Standards Act & the Underenforcement of Minimum Labor Standards published in the spring 2008 edition of the Minnesota Law Review, and Neutrality Agreements Take Center Stage at the National Labor Relations Board published in the Labor Law Journal.
Mark Pearce has also practiced union-side labor law for a large portion of his career. In 2008, the New York State Governor appointed Pearce to serve as a board member on the NYS Industrial Board of Appeals, an independent, quasi-judicial agency in charge of reviewing certain rulings and compliance orders issued by the NYS Department of Labor. According to his law firm’s bio, Pearce has also served on the Board of Directors of the Lawyers Coordinating Committee of the AFL-CIO, and is a member of Cornell Adjunct Faculty -Upstate, New York State United Teachers Local # 37-950, an affiliate of American Federation of Teachers (AFL-CIO). Pearce has taught courses at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations Extension Program, and is a Fellow in the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers. Pearce received his law degree from the State University of New York, and his undergraduate degree from Cornell University.