National Right to Work Foundation:
Craig Becker, Obama’s recess NLRB appointee, has rejected requests to recuse himself from pending cases involving his former employer
Washington, DC (August 9, 2010)
The National Right to Work Foundation, a charitable organization that provides free legal aid to employees, today asked United States Attorney General Eric Holder to conduct an investigation into National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recess appointee Craig Becker’s participation in cases involving his former employer, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
Earlier this summer, Right to Work attorneys filed more than a dozen recusal motions against Becker, who served as associate general counsel for the SEIU and AFL-CIO before he was appointed to the NLRB during a Congressional recess. As the SEIU’s in-house lawyer, Becker litigated against Right to Work Foundation clients and developed legal strategies for SEIU local affiliates across the country. His published writings also indicate a strong level of hostility to the Foundation’s employee-oriented legal aid program.
Foundation attorneys asked Becker to step aside from any case involving Foundation-assisted workers, the SEIU, or its subordinate affiliates. Despite these apparent conflicts of interest, Becker has refused to recuse himself in every case but one.
Only the Attorney General or his appropriate designee has the authority under the Executive Order to investigate any violations of the Obama Administration ethics pledge, which Becker signed. The pledge explicitly forbids any appointee from involving themselves with a former employer for no less than two years.
Becker argues that he may participate in cases involving SEIU affiliates because the national and local unions are “separate and distinct legal entit[ies].” The SEIU’s own constitution, however, considers local affiliates “constituent subordinate bodies” of the national union. Moreover, in 2009 over 85 percent of the SEIU’s receipts came from a per capita tax on the locals’ membership dues and fees. The national union even has the power to assume control over its locals if they do not conform to International policies.
The Foundation’s letter to Holder also notes Becker’s close involvement in the SEIU’s national legal strategy for corralling healthcare workers into unions. Wade Rathke, a former SEIU local union boss and founder of ACORN, praised Becker’s work in this field. As Rathke explained, Becker’s “role was often behind the scenes devising the strategy with the organizers and lawyers, writing the briefs for others to file, and putting all of the pieces together.” Becker’s “separate legal entity” analysis fails to account for this kind of relationship that actually exists between the SEIU and its local affiliates.