Saturday, April 25, 2009


Posted by Tim Fernholz

The president has announced two appointments to the five-member National Labor Relations Board.

He had previously announced that Wilma Liebman, formerly a regular member, would become the chair. Now, he is proposing to add Craig Becker and Mark Pearce to the board.

Becker is currently associate general counsel for both the SEIU and the AFL-CIO; Pearce is a longtime labor lawyer who co-founded his own firm to pursue union-side labor law. It's not the Employee Free Choice Act, but this is a nice gift to the unions all the same. Presuming, of course, the Senate confirms these nominees -- there's a reason that the five-member board currently only has two members...

Craig Becker, Nominee for Board Member, NLRB

Craig Becker currently serves as Associate General Counsel to both the Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of Labor & Congress of Industrial Organizations. He graduated summa cum laude from Yale College in 1978 and received his J.D. in 1981 from Yale Law School where he was an Editor of the Yale Law Journal.

After law school he clerked for the Honorable Donald P. Lay, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. For the past 27 years, he has practiced and taught labor law. He was a Professor of Law at the UCLA School of Law between 1989 and 1994 and has also taught at the University of Chicago and Georgetown Law Schools .

He has published numerous articles on labor and employment law in scholarly journals, including the Harvard Law Review and Chicago Law Review, and has argued labor and employment cases in virtually every federal court of appeals and before the United States Supreme Court.

Mark Pearce, Nominee for Board Member, NLRB

Mark Gaston Pearce has been a labor lawyer for his entire career. He is one of the founding partners of the Buffalo , New York law firm of Creighton, Pearce, Johnsen & Giroux where he practices union side labor and employment law before state and federal courts and agencies including the N.Y.S. Public Employment Relations Board, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the National Labor Relations Board.

Pearce in 2008 was appointed by the NYS Governor to serve as a Board Member on the New York State Industrial Board of Appeals, an independent quasi-judicial agency responsible for review of certain rulings and compliance orders of the NYS Department of Labor in matters including wage and hour law.

Pearce has taught several courses in the labor studies program at Cornell University ’s School of Industrial Labor Relations Extension . He is a Fellow in the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers.

Prior to 2002, Pearce practiced union side labor law and employment law at Lipsitz, Green, Fahringer, Roll, Salisbury & Cambria LLP. From 1979 to 1994, he was an attorney and District Trial Specialist for the NLRB in Buffalo , NY . Pearce received his J.D. from State University of New York, and his B.A. from Cornell University .

Posted by Tim Fernholz


Maxwell Leaves American Rights at Work for Department of Labor
By Matthew Murray
Roll Call Staff

Mary Beth Maxwell, the executive director of American Rights at Work, is leaving the organized labor coalition for the U.S. Department of Labor, the group announced on Friday.

Maxwell will be a senior adviser under Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, a former Democratic lawmaker from California, focusing on “restoring labor standards, improving workplace safety, enhancing work and family balance, protecting retirement security, and helping protect middle- and working-class incomes,” according to a statement out Friday.

American Rights at Work will now be led by current deputy director Kimberly Freeman and former House Minority Whip David Bonior (D-Mich.), the group’s chairman. Bonior and the organization have been ardent supporters of “card check” legislation, a bill that would make it easier for employees to form unions but one that faces stiff opposition from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business leaders.

In a statement today, Bonior said that the card check bill “is as strong as ever” and suggested that Maxwell’s appointment will bolster their efforts in passing the controversial bill. The legislation faces uncertain prospects after Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) — who likely would cast the bill’s deciding vote — recently said in a floor speech that he does not support it.


Obama Pick Marks a Victory for Labor Unions

Labor unions scored a victory today when the President Barack Obama named
top labor advocate, Mary Beth Maxwell, to serve in a key position in the Labor Department.

One labor official said he found Maxwell’s appointment “really heartening” because it shows the administration is serious about improving the lives of the American middle class. “They are not just putting her in a closet. They are putting her in a job where she can get things done,” said Bill Samuel, director of government affairs for the AFL-CIO.

“The union movement looks forward to continuing to work with her” to help “restore workplace standards and safety rules and reform our nation’s broken and outdated labor laws,” AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said in a statement.

“I think the fact that the White House chose her for this post is a strong support for the bill” said Karin Johansson, a Democratic strategist.

Mary Beth Maxwell will join the administration as senior adviser after serving for years as the executive director of the labor coalition American Rights at Work. In the administration, Maxwell will work with the White House Task Force on Middle Class and Working Families, a group that is working to improve the lives and jobs of workers.

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