The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ annual report on union membership rates came out yesterday and noted the following “highlights” from this year’s data: (more…)
This week the United States Department of Labor is hosting a series of Q&A sessions regarding its “Plan/Prevent/Protect” regulatory agenda via webcast. (Here’s the link to the schedule: http://www.dol.gov/regulations/.) While all of this may seem wonky (and it is), everyone needs to start paying attention to items like the Office of Labor-Management Standards’ plans to issue a rule to narrow the application of the “advice exemption” of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (i.e., an effort to require more disclosure of employer spending with outside consultants on union avoidance). As they say, the devil is in the details.
The NLRB is proposing that all private sector employers subject to the National Labor Relations Act post notices advising employees of their rights under federal labor law (http://www.nlrb.gov/shared_files/Press%20Releases/2010/R-2806.pdf). The comment period for this proposed rule is 60 days.
Lafe Solomon, the NLRB’s Acting General Counsel, has just issued a memorandum regarding “Effective Remedies in Organizing Campaigns.” We’ll leave it for you to decide whether this represents the labor law equivalent of Newton’s Third Law (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newton’s_laws_of_motion) or the administrative equivalent of “the Chicago way” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ScvAJG51V4). Either way, the announcement that the Board may seek remedies such as union access to employer’s premises, bulletin boards, and e-mail systems or “notice reading” (i.e., actually forcing a manager to read a Board notice of what the employer did wrong to affected employees) will generate some heated discussion in the labor law world. Moreover, Mr. Solomon has given us a reason to bring back the HR Song of the Week:
I’ve borrowed Garrison Keillor’s sign-off from his Writer’s Almanac as a way of bidding farewell for a while. It’s hard to imagine life without blogging, but I’ll just have to get used to it. I’ve been asked to become General Counsel and Vice President of Human Resources of the newly created CraftWorks Restaurants and Breweries, Inc.
I’m not sure there’s been an employment law subject receiving as much attention in the last 12-18 months as social media. Employers have implemented policies to prevent employees from using social media to put the employer in a bad light. The National Labor Relations Board has just issued a complaint contending that such policies can be a violation of the National Labor Relations Act.
As you know by now, the Republicans will be in control of the U.S. House of Representatives beginning next year, and the Democrats will retain control of the U.S. Senate, although by a much more narrow margin than has been the case for the past two years. Since Republicans are generally regarded as more employer-friendly than Democrats, most employment lawyers may say that the result of this year’s midterm election will mean no new employment legislation. That may be true but I would remind you of what many employment lawyers said after the 2008 election.
That’s an exaggeration. However, a recent incident involving a Rutgers University student demonstrates where social media and the Internet are taking us. College pranks at the beginning of the school year are common, particularly when freshmen are involved. These pranks have sometimes gone overboard, but with the Internet, a prank or an act of revenge can ravage the target.
Only two weeks into the National Football League season, and pro football injuries are occurring at an unusually fast rate. Can you imagine what would happen if these injuries were happening at a manufacturing plant, a construction site, or a chemical company? The Occupational Safety and Health Administration would be investigating full throttle and issuing citations like hotcakes.
Although non-union employers sometimes think otherwise, the National Labor Relations Act applies to both union and non-union employers. That means both union and non-union employers need to be aware of action taken by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that could affect them. The NLRB has recently issued a decision that makes it easier for non-union employers to be drawn into disputes between a union and a union employer with which the non-union employer does business. My colleagues at Miller & Martin have written an excellent summary of this recent decision. I encourage you to read it.
On the heels of a recent post wondering what the heck unions are doing to organize workers who are surely bummed about the state of their employment in these tough economic times, it comes to light that organized labor is trying hard to unionize workers at carwashes in Los Angeles. Before you ridicule this effort, consider a few facts.
Last week, I had a post about the restaurant server who filed a claim with the Tennessee Occupational Safety Health Administration, contending that Tennessee’s law allowing registered gun owners to bring their guns into restaurants and bars that serve alcohol violated TOSHA. Why? Allowing guns to be brought into places that serve alcohol creates a dangerous and unsafe workplace for employees who work in the restaurants and bars because of the threat of violence.
My Labor Day post suggested that organized labor should receive a boost from the Great Recession. There is, of course, a quite legitimate contrary view. For those employers to whom I may have given heartburn on Labor Day, here’s your antacid.
I have done two previous posts to recognize American workers on Labor Day. The first one contained a history of Labor Day provided by the U.S. Department of Labor. The second one focused on a statement about Labor Day issued by Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. This year’s Labor Day post will be different, since it seems appropriate to look at Labor Day in the context of the ongoing Great Recession.
Like a few other states, Tennessee has a law on the books that permits registered gun owners to bring their guns into establishments serving alcohol. A server in a Nashville restaurant has filed an anonymous complaint with the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration claiming that mixing guns with alcohol creates an unsafe work environment under TOSHA.
Three recent stories in the news caused me to think of the most famous line from the 1976 movie Network: “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this any more.” First, there’s the stressed-out Jet Blue flight attendant, who ended his career like many employees say they’d like to. Second, protests by laid-off bank workers are growing and now include sit-ins. In China. Third, an era of anger among employees is sweeping the U.S. These stories have something in common, but when put together, there’s a degree of incongruence.
It is perhaps fitting that my 2000th post be about a momentous event. Elena Kagan was confirmed yesterday by the U.S. Senate as a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court by a vote of 63-37 . It’s no surprise that she was confirmed. It marks, however, the first time in U.S. history that three women will be serving on the Supreme Court at the same time. This really is one of those “we’ve come a long way, baby” moments. Ronald Reagan appointed the first woman ever: Sandra Day O’Connor (now retired). Bill Clinton appointed the second: Ruth Bader Ginsburg; Barack Obama has appointed the third: Sonia Sotomayor, and the fourth: Elena Kagan.
Perhaps the one thing of interest that hasn’t been covered on this blog about Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is a one year period of time when she clerked for Justice Thurgood Marshall in the late 1980′s. (For my other posts on Kagan, click here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.) All of these posts have been designed to predict what kind of Justice Elena Kagan would be when it comes to labor and employment law. As previous posts have pointed out, any prediction is more of a guess because of Kagan’s scant record on this subject.
When I did the first post on Elena Kagan’s Solicitor General briefs, I indicated that she had submitted briefs in nine cases having employment law implications. As noted in my last post, one of them involved the same issue as New Process Steel v. NLRB recently decided by the Supreme Court. One of them (Mohawk Industries, Inc. v. Carpenter) is a strictly procedural case and doesn’t seem worth discussion for purposes of discerning anything about her labor and employment views.