Despite increasing opposition, President Obama on Saturday announced his appointment of 15 individuals to various federal agencies, including the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Among those appointed was Craig Becker, the controversial NLRB Democratic nominee. Also given a recess appointment to the NLRB was the other Democratic nominee, Mark Pearce. However, the President did not give a recess appointment to the Republican nominee, Brian Hayes. On Thursday, Republican Senators sent a letter to Obama urging him not to do so. Randel K. Johnson, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President of Labor, Immigration, and Employee Benefits, said of Becker’s appointment: “The business community should be on red alert for radical changes that could significantly impair the ability of America’s job creators to compete.” Becker has been widely criticized for advocating admittedly “provocative” positions in this academic writings. During a hearing, Becker tried to distance himself from these statements, such as his belief that a new body of representation election rules should be created to limit employer involvement, including the holding of so-called “captive audience” meetings. Many lawmakers and business interests continue to question, however, whether Becker can be impartial as a member of the Board. Becker’s term will now last until the end of 2011, unless the Senate appoints him to a full term.
With the recess appointments of Becker and Pearce, the Democrats now hold a 3-1 majority on the Board. With a 3-1 edge, the focus shifts to the NLRB to advance the objectives of the Employee Free Choice Act, which has stalled in Congress. Whether it was legal to allow the only two sitting NLRB members to operate as a quorum is a question currently under review by the Supreme Court. Before the appointments, the Board consisted of Wilma B. Liebman, who Obama appointed as NLRB Chair in January 2009, and Peter Carey Schaumber, who was designated NLRB Chair in 2008 by former President George W. Bush.
With respect to the EEOC, Obama appointed Jacqueline A. Berrien to be the agency’s chair, Chai R. Feldblum and Victoria A. Lipnic to be EEOC commissioners, and P. David Lopez to be the agency’s general counsel.