Labor and employment roundup

  • “Clusters” of nursing employees “standing around and ‘chitchatting’ about their concern that their cars would be damaged if they voted against union representation.” D.C. Circuit rejects NLRB position that talk of tire-slashing by union backer known to have “been in violent altercations in the past, and [sporting current] hand injury from a knife fight” was harmless joking [John Ross, Short Circuit on Manorcare of Kingston v. NLRB]
  • Karma stalks #FightFor15, SEIU: “Union protested by its own minimum wage organizers” [Sean G. Higgins]
  • Feds raid powerful Philadelphia construction union boss, allies [Jillian Kay Melchior, Heat Street, Philadelphia Daily News, NBC Philadelphia, earlier Melchior on role of John (“Johnny Doc”) Dougherty in enactment of city’s soda tax]
  • “A New Illegal Interview Question: How Much Did You Earn In Your Last Job?” [Evil HR Lady on just-passed Massachusetts law]
  • “You have the right to replace striking workers, right?” [Jon Hyman]
  • Hillary Clinton now hinting at increased federal control over labor markets as a centerpiece of economic policy if elected [John Cochrane]


  • Re: New Illegal Interview Question.

    Once again we have a case of the government restricting speech without a compelling interest. There is no data that I can see (and none cited in the article) that asking about salary of a previous job is in any way associated with alleged pay inequities.

    Employers ask the salary question for a myriad of reasons including such reasonable ones as employers want to see a growth in the person’s salary both in a job and as they move from job to job.

    Another example would be a person who left a $100K job and is seeking a job whose stated pay is $50K. That type of downward change raises all sorts of red flags such as “will the person stay in this position or is this a stop gap position for them?” “Did something happen in their last job that caused them to leave and seek this lower paying position?” “Is the person being truthful about the last salary they made and are they using it as a bargaining chip?”

    How long a person will stay in a job is a legitimate concern of any employer given the costs of recruiting, hiring, training, etc. It is also a legitimate concern that an applicant / prospective employee is truthful and honest.

    A job application is like a jigsaw puzzle. To hire good people you take individual questions and answers to make up a picture.

    The removal of another question is the removal of another piece of the puzzle which will cost companies more money without any practical benefit to anyone.

    • If I, as a prospective employee in an interview, asked “how much did you pay the last person who had the job?” wouldn’t you probably refuse to answer and show me the door?

      • Speaking strictly for myself, I’d say “no, not necessarily.” It would depend on circumstances, rapport, your qualifications, etc. That a question is aggressive does not automatically rule it out of bounds.

    • “Employers ask the salary question for a myriad of reasons including such reasonable ones as employers want to see a growth in the person’s salary both in a job and as they move from job to job.”

      Even more innocuous, most professional job openings don’t have fixed salaries (there may be a range based on level/responsibilities, but not a singular fixed value). Companies expect you to negotiate salary. Your current/previous salary is an important piece of information for those negotiations.

      • But negotiations as to compensation normally follow a job offer. Asking about past compensation in the interview puts the applicant at a disadvantage.

        • The applicant is already disadvantaged. They want, potentially, what the employer is offering – a job.

          Discussions about compensation and benefits can quickly help potential employer and potential employee set expectations as to what each wants from the relationship. At the end of the day, 95% of the relationship (if not more) is about compensation and work product. If employer and employee are too far apart there, the rest of the interview wastes both party’s time.