New AFL-CIO General Counsel Believes All Workers Should Be Corralled Into Unions


Craig Becker’s cushy new job proves that his critics were right


In his writings for academic and “labor studies” journals over the years, Craig Becker has made it plain time and again that he believes all American workers should be corralled into unions.  It does not matter to him if an individual worker wants to be union-free.  Nor does it matter to him if a majority of front-line employees at a workplace oppose unionization.  Just as every American has a congressman or a congresswoman, Mr. Becker “reasons,” all front-line employees, including those who would never voluntarily join a union, should have a union exercising monopoly power to negotiate over their pay, benefits, and working conditions with their employer.

Take, for example, “Reconstructing the Right to Organize,” an article Mr. Becker published in the Fall/Winter 1998 edition of New Labor Forum. Here, Mr. Becker approvingly quoted the lament of a New Deal-era general counsel of the American Federation of Labor that U.S. labor law “does not require employees to select a bargaining agent, if they do not want to.”  Mr. Becker conceded:  “At first blush, it might seem fair to give workers the choice to remain unrepresented.”  But legally protecting employees’ freedom to choose against unionization, either as individuals or collectively, results in not enough workers’ being unionized, in Mr. Becker’s view.  Therefore, he concluded, employees’ only choice should be over which set of union officials get monopoly-bargaining power to negotiate their pay, benefits, and work rules.

Thanks to President Barack Obama, Mr. Becker recently had a nearly two-year-long opportunity to begin implementing his extremist vision of what federal labor policy should be.  In March 2010, Mr. Obama did the bidding of the union hierarchy by “recess” appointing Mr. Becker to the powerful National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

At the NLRB from March 2010 until December 2011, as management attorney Brett McMahon points out in the Washington Examiner commentary linked above, Mr. Becker and his cohorts

advanced a radical agenda that would allow paid union organizers to trample businesses’ property rights and strip employees of the right to a secret ballot if the union and company had cut a secret deal, allowing the creation of swarms of “micro unions” to cherry pick a few employees at a time to bypass the will of the entire proper bargaining unit and reduce the amount of information employees would have when suddenly faced with a one-sided union sales pitch and election for dues-paying membership.

Unable to secure Senate confirmation for a full term, Mr. Becker had to leave the NLRB a few months ago.  But this week it’s being reported that the AFL-CIO hierarchy has now hired him as co-general counsel, along with Lynn Rhinehart, of the massive union conglomerate.

While AFL-CIO bigwigs have for decades displayed flagrant contempt for the American worker’s right to bargain and join or not join a union as an individual, Big Labor often pays lip service to the principle that a business’s employees should be able collectively to reject unionization.  However, AFL-CIO bosses’ eagerness to hire Mr. Becker, who openly bemoans the fact that U.S. labor law does not “mandate” union monopoly bargaining, suggests they have no more respect for the choices workers make collectively than they do for the choices workers make individually.