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The five-member National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will undergo a dramatic makeover with the appointment of a new chairman, Wilma Liebman, and three new members, Craig Becker, Mark Pearce, and Brian Hayes.  Typically the Board consists of three members from the sitting President’s party and two from the other party.

Based on the backgrounds and previously stated positions of the new majority members, we anticipate that the new NLRB will seek to change course significantly from decisions of the Board appointed in the previous Administration, perhaps through rulemaking as opposed to case-by-case decisions. 

Earlier this year, Democrat Board Member Wilma Liebman was elevated to the position of Chairman.  Liebman has served on the Board since November 14, 1997 and her current term expires August 27, 2011.  Before coming to the NLRB, Liebman was Deputy Director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.  She has also held the position of Labor Counsel for Bricklayers and Allied Craftsmen and for nine years served as Legal Counsel to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.  Prior to these positions she was a staff attorney with the NLRB from 1974 to 1980.  Liebman received a B.A. from Barnard College and a J.D. from the George Washington University Law Center.

Liebman has made clear her positions on various issues and frequently dissented from Board decisions under the previous Administration.  She has testified before Congress and written law review articles critical of such decisions, stating that “virtually every recent policy choice by the [Bush] board impedes collective bargaining, creates obstacles to union representation or favors employer interests.” 

Craig Becker was nominated on July 9, 2009 to fill one of the two vacant Democratic Board seats.  He has practiced labor and employment law for over 27 years and has argued before the United States Supreme Court.  Becker was the Associate General Counsel to the AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).  He has taught classes at the UCLA Law School, the University of Chicago Law School, and the Georgetown Law Center.  Becker graduated from Yale College and Yale Law School where he served as the editor of the Yale Law Journal.

Most notably, Becker has written extensively about his views on the NLRB, the role of employers in union elections, and the problems he sees in the labor-management system in this country.  In a 1993 article in the University of Minnesota Law Review, Becker suggested that employers should have no role in union organizing campaigns or representation elections.  He also has proposed that elections should be removed from worksites and should be handled either by mail ballots or conducted on “neutral ground”.

Mark Pearce joins Becker as a nominee for a Democratic Board seat.  Pearce has represented unions for decades and is a founding partner of the firm Creighton, Pearce, Johnsen & Giroux in Buffalo, New York.  From 1979 to 1994, he practiced labor and employment law at Lipisizt, Green, Fahringer, Roll, Salisbury, and Cambria.  Prior to these positions, he worked as an attorney and District Trial Specialist for the NLRB in Buffalo, New York.  Pearce holds a B.A. from Cornell University and a J.D. from State University of New York.  He has also taught labor studies at Cornell University.

Brian Hayes was nominated at the end of August to fill the vacant Republican seat on the Board.  He currently serves as the Republican labor policy director for the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. He has spent more than 25 years practicing labor and employment law and representing employers before the NLRB, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and various fair employment practice agencies.

Hayes received his undergraduate degree from Boston College and his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.  After law school, Hayes clerked for the Chief Judge of the NLRB and then served as Counsel to the Chairman of the NLRB.  He then entered private practice and served as an adjunct professor at Western New England Law School where he taught classes in labor law, collective-bargaining, arbitration, and employment litigation.