ALM Properties, Inc.
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Moves Profile: One Big Union
If the Republicans in Congress thought CRAIG BECKER was too pro-union before, just wait till they see him now. The AFL-CIO named Becker its cogeneral counsel in May; that's about as pro-union as you can get. He took office in July.
Becker's coGC, LYNN RHINEHART, joined the AFL-CIO in 1996 as asso&ciate general counsel. She was named GC in October 2009. She had previously worked on the staff of the Senate subcommittee on labor.
Becker says no decisions have been made yet on how he and Rhinehart will divide up their duties. "But it's a challenging time," he says, "and I'm sure two heads will be better than one." The organization offered no specifics on why it had decided to take on a second top in-house lawyer.
The Washington, D.C. based AFL-CIOformally the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizationsis an umbrella federation representing some 56 unions, ranging from the Air Line Pilots Association to the Writers Guild of America, East Inc.
Becker is a strong litigator who has argued labor and employment cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and in nearly every federal court of appeals. He is a former embattled member of the National Labor Relations Board and more recently a visiting professor at Georgetown University Law Center.
"I bring a lot of different perspectives," Becker says. "I've represented a number of different unions, both public and private, I've been an academic at three different law schools, and I've worked in public service. Hopefully, that combination will bring something to the AFL-CIO."
President Barack Obama nominated Becker to the NLRB, but Republicans in the U.S. Senate refused to confirm him, calling him too liberal and too pro-union. The president subsequently used a temporary recess appointment in March 2010 that allowed Becker to serve on the board through December 2011.
While on the NLRB, Becker supported two controversial policies that businesses opposed. One required employers to post notices on their bulletin boards explaining employees' rights to form unions and bargain collectively, while the other set up new rules to speed up union elections.
Both policies ran into trouble in the courts. In April a federal appeals court suspended the notice requirement, and in mid-May the NLRB temporarily suspended its new election rules after another federal judge said the board improperly adopted the rules without a quorum.
Earlier in his career Becker served as associate general counsel to both the Service Employees International Union and the AFL-CIO. He graduated summa cum laude from Yale and received his law degree from Yale Law School, where he was a law journal editor.