Ethics Violator: Craig Becker

The American Spectator looks behind the curtain at the man primarily responsible for turning the National Labor Relations Board into a vehicle for big labor advocacy -- former SEIU General Counsel Craig Becker.  But in doing so, Becker violated ethics pledges made by his boss, President Obama. For the last few months, Boeing has been clashing with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) over its decision to locate a plant in South Carolina. The NLRB argues that the airplane manufacturer illegally moved work from union factories in Washington state to a new $1 billion facility in the right-to-work Palmetto State. NLRB lawyers maintain this is straightforward retaliation against union workers, based on comments allegedly made by Boeing executives themselves. Business leaders have denounced this as an unprecedented bit of federal pro-union advocacy, with the House of Representatives last week voting to halt the Boeing case and others like it. The battle may soon intensify. Federal financial disclosure forms reveal that Craig Becker, a key union-friendly vote on the NLRB, owned stock in Boeing at the beginning of this year. Becker is one of federal agency's Democratic board members. According to documents obtained by the National Right to Work Committee, as of January 2011 Becker owned between $1,001 and $15,000 in Boeing stock, earning between $201 and $1,000 in dividends. This particular public financial disclosure report does not require more specific information. The disclosure already has people detecting a potential conflict of interest. "The fact that Mr. Becker owns or owned stock in Boeing could be extremely detrimental to the NLRB's case against that company," says F. Vincent Vernuccio, labor policy counsel at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. "If Mr. Becker currently owns stock in Boeing then he should recuse himself from hearing the case." Any recusal could imperil the NLRB's ability to take the Boeing case at all. Since former member Wilma Liebman's term expired, the normally five-member board is down to just three members. "The Supreme Court recently ruled that the NLRB must have three members or there will be no quorum," says Vernuccio. "If Becker is not able to sit on the case there can be no decision for Boeing." Another labor policy watcher familiar with Becker's Boeing investment acknowledges it is a relatively small amount of money. "But how big does it have to be before there can be a conflict of interest?" he asks. "It's not like there is a minimum where it would be okay." Becker, a perennial labor lightning rod, has faced calls to recuse himself before. A former lawyer for the AFL-CIO and SEIU, Becker said in a footnote to a June 2010 ruling that he would recuse  himself from cases in which either of those unions was a party. Becker cited compliance with the Obama administration's ethics policy as his reason for bowing out of those decisions.

The war on jobs and true employee free choice

The war on jobs and true employee free choice

South Carolina Boeing employee Dennis Murray, a quality assurance inspector, doesn't mince words regarding IAM union bosses' aims: "They're trying to spank us like unruly children, by having all of our jobs taken away." Credit: WCBD-TV (Charleston, S.C.) From the South Carolina State newspaper, and op-ed by Rep. Ron Paul: With jobs so hard to come by for many Americans, you would think a private company deciding to create more than 1,000 jobs would be cheered by Republicans and Democrats alike. But President Obama’s National Labor Relations Board is doing everything it can to stop Boeing from opening a new plant in North Charleston. And as sad as it may seem, at the heart of the board’s actions is political cronyism at its absolute worst. Since South Carolina is a right-to-work state, workers at Boeing’s new plant can’t be forced under the threat of losing their jobs to hand over a portion of their hard-earned money to union officials in dues. The labor board’s attempt to force Boeing to stay in a non-right-to-work state where the union bosses can force workers to pay up or be fired is political payback for their undying support during the last presidential campaign. If the Obama administration succeeds, it could result in the virtual destruction of right-to-work laws all across the country: No longer could private companies decide for themselves where to move or open new facilities; the government would now take on that responsibility and make decisions based solely on what benefits the big-labor elite. Right-to-work states would be left out in the cold. According to the National Institute for Labor Relations Research, right-to-work states had more than double the job growth of forced-unionism states over the past decade. In other words, big-labor control over American workers is a drag on our economy. It was organized labor’s stranglehold that drove the big three automakers to the brink of bankruptcy — until American taxpayers were forced to rescue them. And it’s not just in the private sector. Big labor’s control of government workers in California, Illinois and elsewhere has driven those states to the brink of bankruptcy.

It’s ‘Labor’ Day, Not ‘Union’ Day

National Right to Work President Mark Mix makes the critical distinction between "Labor Day" and "Union Day," a distinction that union bosses chose to ignore: By Mark Mix Most Americans realize that Labor Day is about celebrating workers, not union bosses, but that won’t stop Big Labor’s apologists from stealing to spotlight to demand more power. The fact is that modern unions are built on the legal privilege of compulsion. In 28 states without Right to Work laws, nonunion employees can be fired for refusing to pay union dues. Millions more nonunion workers have no choice but to accept union bargaining over their wages and working conditions. What’s more, union officials routinely funnel nonunion workers’ dues into political campaigns aimed at defending or expanding their already extensive special privileges. As legislators from Wisconsin to Ohio can attest, this perverse cycle has made it extremely difficult to roll back union bosses’ workplace powers. Big Labor thrives on a system of government-granted special privileges. But what do workers get out of this arrangement? According to union apologists, they’d be helpless without it. But the facts reveal a different story. Compulsory unionism makes union bosses unaccountable to rank-and-file workers, whose financial support is absolutely mandatory. After all, why should union officials bother with the hard work of representing employees if they’re sitting on a forced-dues revenue stream guaranteed by the government?