Saturday, May 9, 2009

Obama turns Labor around

Obama signals big shift in labor policy
Three friendly to unions tapped for key positions

By Lisa Mascaro

Washington — President Barack Obama’s decision to tap three veterans of the labor movement for crucial posts signals a strong, if expected, shift from the Bush administration’s tilt toward business on labor issues.

Obama named Mary Beth Maxwell, a founder of the card-check-advocacy group American Rights at Work, as a senior adviser at the Labor Department. Maxwell’s appointment is a boost for the Employee Free Choice Act, the so-called card-check bill that would make it easier for workers to form unions. Maxwell will work with the White House Task Force on Middle Class Working Families.

Obama also nominated two veteran labor lawyers to the National Labor Relations Board. The five-member panel has been operating with just two members since late 2007, amassing a backlog of cases of disputes between workers and management.

Nominee Craig Becker is currently associate general counsel for the Service Employees International Union and the AFL-CIO, and a longtime law professor. Mark Pearce is a career labor lawyer in private practice.

If confirmed by the Senate, they will join Wilma Liebman, whom Obama tapped as chairman in January, as Democratic appointees to the panel. The panel has one Republican appointee and one vacancy.

Labor advocates see a pendulum swing from the Bush administration.

Read the whole story here...