The thumbnail sketch would see Craig as a legal scholar having been a professor here and there with good union credentials having been listed as associate general counsel to SEIU for years as well no matter what else he was doing. All true and all good.
For my money Craig’s signal contribution has been his work in crafting and executing the legal strategies and protections which have allowed the effective organization of informal workers, and by this I mean home health care workers, under the protection of the National Labor Relations Act. The effective organization of informal workers — home health and home day care — has been the great, exceptional success story within the American labor movement for our generation, leading to the membership of perhaps a half-million such workers in unions like SEIU, AFSCME, CWA, and the AFT. Further this organizational work has led to increases in wages and benefits for such at-home workers across the board.
Craig was the key lawyer from the beginning in the early 1980′s who was able to piece together the arguments and representation that allowed those of us involved in trying to organize home health care workers in Illinois, Massachusetts, and elsewhere to beat back the arguments that such workers should be denied NLRA coverage because they were either self-employed or tainted by a co-employer situation where they might be quasi-public employees because they were directly reimbursed. His role was often behind the scenes devising the strategy with the organizer and lawyers, writing the briefs for others to file, and putting all of the pieces together, but he was the go-to-guy on all of this. I can remember Keith Kelleher negotiating the subsidy for SEIU Local 880 in Chicago and always making sure that there was the money for the organizers, but that SEIU was also still willing to allow access to Craig.
Craig Becker will no longer be a secret weapon for workers at the NLRB, particularly informal workers who desperately need protections under labor law, but at least with him sitting on the board, there will finally once again be a fair and effective advocate and safeguard for workers. Thanks for a solid, President Obama!