Labor Pains

Editorial

Published February 10, 2010, issue of February 19, 2010.
  • Print
  • Share Share

The nomination of Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board appears to be history. In a 52-33 vote on February 9, Senate Democrats failed to muster the 60 votes needed to bring this long-awaited name to the floor for approval. A union lawyer who worked on President Obama’s transition team, Becker was opposed even by some Democrats from states like Nebraska and Arkansas, where “right-to-work” laws rule.

In addition to this being another example of the waning ability of unions to counteract the lobbying blitz conducted by business interests to stop a nominee, it also speaks to the deeper dysfunction in Congress, which is stopping the federal government from doing its job.

The NLRB — charged with conducting elections for labor union representation and with investigating and remedying unfair labor practices — is one of those federal agencies with a reach much greater than its profile. It’s no surprise that an Obama administration is going to appoint people with a different take on labor than its Republican predecessor.

Nonetheless, the stubborn stalemate in the Senate has left the agency with three vacancies, a backlog of hundreds of pending cases, and a real challenge to the NLRB’s ability to function. (The Supreme Court has agreed to review whether decisions made with only two members are valid.) Wilma Liebman, the NLRB’s chair and a Democratic appointee, recently made a rare plea to lawmakers to confirm Becker and the two other nominees (one Democrat, one Republican) who have been held up since last summer.

But the party of “no” just keeps shaking its head. Republicans complained that Becker would try to surreptitiously enact pro-union rules and criticized him for statements made in a law review article published 17 years ago. One wonders whether anyone who worked for a living while carrying a union card would pass muster.

In the latest issue of The Atlantic, James Fallows argues that America can rise again if the nation fixes its outdated system of governance. “That is the American tragedy of the early-21st century: a vital and self-renewing culture that attracts the world’s talent, and a governing system that increasingly looks like a joke.” He wasn’t referring to this latest roadblock, but he could have been.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.