U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., said in April 2009 she would not support the Employee Free Choice Act — controversial legislation pushed by her party that would make it easier for unions to organize.
Lincoln, who faces a tough reelection challenge in a right-to-work state, stuck to her guns and voted against allowing Craig Becker to be confirmed as a director on the National Labor Relations Board.
Becker, a pro-labor lawyer and advocate for Card Check, was nominated by President Barack Obama for the powerful five-person board. The board has judicial powers to decide on administrative proceedings related to conflicts under the National Labor Relations Act. Becker has written that he would take his personal agenda to Washington.
The most controversial part of the Act would allow the designation of a union if a majority of employees sign pro-union authorization cards. Once the National Labor Relations Board validates the signatures, a union is created and collective bargaining with the employer begins.
Lincoln’s office issued this statement: “I believe there should be a balance between the rights of employers and employees in the workplace regarding labor laws and regulations that govern collective bargaining. After reviewing Mr. Becker’s record, I became concerned that his approach to these important issues could undermine the existing rules on union elections on matters that in my view should be addressed through the regular legislative process.”
U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., was the first and most prominent Democrat to break ranks and oppose Obama’s pick. U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., did not vote.
The Workforce Fairness Institute, a lobbying group formed to oppose Card Check, issued this statement: “Today’s bipartisan vote by Senator Lincoln in opposition to Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board was really a vote in strong support of small businesses struggling to survive in a challenging economic environment. In spite of immense pressure from union bosses, Lincoln did what was right for her constituents, both employers and employees in Arkansas.”
It is possible Obama could use his power of recess appointment to place Becker in the post.