A UNION OF CONFLICTS: A PRESIDENTIAL HEADACHE

From the desk of Stephen Cabot:

Union ideologues, supporters of President Obama, have created a pair of public relations problems for him that not even his political enemies could have created. One involves the Hyatt hotel chain and Unite Here, the hotel and restaurant workers union. The other involves former SEIU attorney, Craig Becker, who is now a member of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). In fifteen cities, Unite Here members are protesting what it calls “recessionary” contracts offered by Hyatt that, it claims, limit salary and benefits for years to come. In an apparent effort to embarrass the president, Unite Here is focusing its protests on Penny Prizker, whose family owned Hyatt prior to taking it public last year. The family still owns a controlling interest in the hotel chain. Ms. Pritzker is one of President Obama’s biggest fund raisers and was finance chair of his presidential campaign. She now serves on the president’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board. Of course, unions also raised considerable funds for the president’s election campaign, and Unite Here was one of the campaign’s major fund raisers. To which of these warring parties does President Obama owe his greatest allegiance? After all, he will need enormous fund raising not only for the mid-term elections this fall, but also for his own re-election campaign in 2012. Making matters worse, Unite Here is in a battle with the Services Employees International Union about which union is the legitimate representative of workers in various locals. That issue may be settled by the NLRB, where Craig Becker could cast a deciding vote, never mind that he served as attorney for SEIU and refuses to recuse himself from ruling on SEIU cases which come before the Board. In fact, there are more than a dozen SEIU cases before the Board for which Craig Becker’s recusal has been requested by the National Right to Work Foundation (NRWF). He has, as one might have expected, refused to recuse himself. One can envision beads of sweat of the president’s brow as he takes two aspirins, hoping his headache vanishes before the midterm elections.

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