With President Barack Obama’s recent recess appointment of former AFL-CIO and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Associate General Counsel, Craig Becker, to the National Labor Relations Board, employers need to be as alert as ever to potential changes in the world of federal labor relations.

After the U.S. Senate refused to confirm Becker’s previous nomination to the Board by an overwhelming majority more than one month ago, President Obama decided to end-around Senate confirmation rules by making Becker a recess appointment.

There’s no denying that Becker’s appointment is a key step in the efforts of the current administration to work change into federal labor policy. While passage of any form of the Employee Free Choice Act (“EFCA”) has stalled in Congress over the last 12 months, Becker’s nomination to a now democratic-controlled 3-1 Board majority provides the Obama administration with an avenue to make at least some changes they have been unable to otherwise make without the passage of the EFCA.

Some of the more notable changes that we may see from the Board in upcoming months are rules which focus on the election process — including where, and how quickly, elections to vote on a union will be held after a Petition for Election gets filed – and further decisions on who qualifies as a supervisor under the National Labor Relations Act, among others.

Time will tell what new rules or decisions the Board actually adopts in the wake of Becker’s recess appointment – and for the 18 months which follow during his term — but make no mistake, the landscape for employers will likely change significantly during that time.

Mario Bordogna represents clients in all aspects of labor and employment law in state and federal courts. Mr. Bordogna concentrates his practice in the areas of employment litigation, employment discrimination, workers’ compensation, employment counseling, and labor–management relations.
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