McCain Puts Hold on Senate Confirmation of Obama's Labor Board Nominee

Sen. John McCain reiterated his case Thursday against President Obama's nominee to serve on the National Labor Relations Board, saying Craig Becker's controversial writings and legal advocacy work have outraged critics who say he supports unions at the expense of employer free speech and American businesses.

McCain, R-Ariz., decided Wednesday to block Senate consideration of the nomination of Becker to join the NLRB -- a five-member independent government agency that supervises union organization campaigns and investigates and remedies unfair labor practices.

Becker, who currently serves as associate general counsel to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), a labor union representing about 1.8 million workers, was approved by a 15-8 vote Wednesday in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

But McCain and a slew of business groups are raising questions over articles and academic journals written by Becker on the very labor law he would work to interpret if confirmed to the board. Critics say Becker's  writings reflect views that support restricting employers' free speech rights and limiting the ability of employers to converse with their employees during union representation campaigns.

"Mr. Becker is on the record supporting suppression of employer free speech," McCain spokeswoman Brook Buchanan said in an interview with Foxnews.com on Thursday. Buchanan said McCain is calling for an on-the-record hearing to "give Mr. Becker the opportunity to clarify some of these views and opinions."

Of particular concern to critics is a 1993 Minnesota Law Review article in which Becker, then a law professor at UCLA, argued that "employers should be stripped of any legally cognizable interest in their employees' election of representatives."

"Employers should have no right to raise questions concerning voter eligibility or campaign conduct," Becker wrote. 

"Because employers have no right to vote, they cast no ballots the significance of which can be diluted by the inclusion of ineligible employees. Nor, obviously, can employers be coerced in the exercise of a franchise they do not have. Because employers lack the formal status either of candidates vying to represent employees or of voters, they should not be entitled to charge that unions disobeyed the rules governing voter eligibility or campaign conduct," he continued.  

Business groups, including the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, claim Becker supports policies that reflect a clear bias against employers and would be "detrimental" to American manufacturers. They are insisting that a public hearing be held to question Becker.

"Mr. Becker has espoused extreme positions far outside mainstream thought on how our nation's labor laws should be interpreted," National Association of Manufacturers Executive Vice President Jay Timmons wrote in a letter to Sen. Tom Harkin, chairman of the Senate HELP committee.

But Harkin and others, including the committee's top Republican, Sen. Mike Enzi. voted to approve his nomination.

Enzi said in opening testimony Wednesday that he has "serious concerns" about Becker's writings -- especially the "potential for radical changes in labor law he has advocated" -- but told the committee that Becker had been properly vetted.

Becker, along with fellow nominees Brian Hayes and Mark Pierce, "have successfully completed the committee's vetting process and all the necessary paperwork," Enzi said during opening testimony.

Enzi added that nominees to the NLRB "have been historically confirmed in packages of either two at a time or three at a time."

When asked for more information on Enzi's concerns regarding Becker, his spokesman Michael Mahaffey told Foxnews.com: "Senator Enzi believes that [the] president is due some deference when it comes to choosing nominees -- that's one of the consequences of the last election."

Buchanan said that while McCain is calling for a public hearing on Becker's confirmation, "I can't say at this point that he [McCain] either supports or opposes his nomination."