Becker's NLRB defeat: The high water mark of union influence?

There's no mistaking the role played by labor unions in electing Democrats to national offices. Without their investment in terms of money and manpower, it's hard to imagine how the Democratic gains of 2006 and 2008 could have taken place.

While some would say that the Democrats owed the labor unions quite a lot following the last two election cycles, unions have gotten very little in return, first with the failure of card check legislation that would have given their recruitment efforts a major boost, and then with the recent failure to seat Craig Becker on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

As the NLRB could be a key vehicle for the Obama administration to create a more union-friendly environment, the Becker defeat wasn't the only problem they face on this board. With three of five seats currently vacant, a case expected to be heard by the Supreme Court this year will question the legality of decisions by a board with just two members. If the high court overturns their decision-making power, then it would be a major setback to pro-union efforts.

The Becker defeat this year, followed by last year's failure to pass card check legislation, could be troubling signs for both labor unions and Democrats. If their efforts to seat a Democratic President and Congressional majority have produced no noteworthy gains in the power of labor unions, then one has to wonder how this will affect their committment to support Democratic campaign efforts in a year when Democrats will need all the help they can get.

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