The National Labor Relations Board says any “aggrieved” person (not just an employee) can file a complaint of unfair labor practices against an employer. So does that include any old Internet troll? We may soon find out now that a Twitter rando has filed a NLRB complaint against Ben Domenech, editor of the online opinion journal The Federalist, over his joke tweet saying that if any employees unionize he would “send you to the salt mine.” [New Civil Liberties Alliance]
- More on presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ big plans to regulate employment [Cato Daily Podcast with Ryan Bourne and Caleb Brown, related earlier]
- It’s not just the joint employer rules, NLRB is rolling back Obama-era decisions in many other areas too: union elections, including “quickie” procedures [Laura I. Bernstein, Felhaber Larson]; confidentiality in workplace investigations and use of company email systems [Jon Hyman]
- California Agricultural Labor Relations Board adopts a regulation entitling union organizers to enter farms whether owners approve or no. When such a mass incursion, with bullhorns, disrupts farm operations, has a taking of property occurred? Ninth Circuit says no [Pacific Legal Foundation; Metropolitan News-Enterprise; Federalist Society podcast with Wen Fa and Bethany Berger]
- Study based on tax data finds typical member of top-earning 1% “derives most of his or her income from human capital, not financial capital” [David Henderson] Or on the other hand: “The [analytic] attempt to divide all income between labor and capital is a fool’s errand.” [Arnold Kling]
- “Both the financial market crash and the aging of America’s industrial workforce are real phenomena. They did not, however, cause the multiemployer pension crisis.” [Charles Blahous, Economics21; more by Blahous here, here, and here; earlier]
- Supervisor’s remarks critical of exercising FMLA leave options keep nurse’s lawsuit alive despite clients’ complaints about her behavior while visiting their homes [Ronald Tang, SHRM]
The U.S. Department of Labor has proposed a final rule stepping back from the Obama administration’s damaging effort to stretch the definition of “joint employer” so as to tag companies with liability over the employment actions of many franchisees, subcontractors and even suppliers. “The new rule beats a retreat from the past administration’s aim ‘to force much more of the economy into the mold of large-payroll, unionized employers, a system for which the 1950s are often (wrongly) idealized.’ That very same goal is at the root of California’s unfolding debacle with AB5, a law that tries to force many lines of freelancing into a direct-employment model and is already harming large numbers of workers it had purported to help.” I explain in a new Cato post.
- Democratic contenders’ platforms on employment issues: Sanders still gets out furthest to left but Warren, Buttigieg, and O’Rourke giving him some serious competition [Alexia Fernández Campbell, Vox]
- Occupational licensure: more states embrace reform [Eric Boehm] Bright spots include Colorado (Gov. Jared Polis vetoes expansion) and Pennsylvania (recognition of out-of-state licenses) [Alex Muresianu and more] Connecticut catching up on nail salons, in a bad way [Scott Shackford]
- “Trump’s Labor Board Is Undoing Everything Obama’s Did” [Robert VerBruggen, NRO] A theme: to protect employee freedom of choice [Glenn Taubman and Raymond J. LaJeunesse, Federalist Society]
- Mistaken classification of a worker as an independent contractor, whatever its other unpleasant legal implications for an employer, is not an NLRA violation when not intended to interfere with rights under the Act [Todd Lebowitz; Washington Legal Foundation; In re Velox Express]
- Modern employers need to watch out for their HR departments, says Jordan Peterson [interviewed by Tyler Cowen, via David Henderson]
- Despite effects of federal pre-emption, state constitutions afford a possible source of rights claims for workers [Aubrey Sparks (Alaska, Florida constitutions) and Jonathan Harkavy (North Carolina), On Labor last year]
In March and April, the U.S. Department of Labor issued notices of proposed rulemaking on two of the most hotly contested issues of its predecessor Obama department, overtime for junior managers and the joint-employer rule. Tammy McCutchen:
The DOL proposes to increase the minimum salary for exemption from $455 per week ($23,660 annualized) to $679 per week ($35,308 annualized)…. If adopted, the proposed rule would replace the final rule issued by the DOL on May 19, 2016, but enjoined by the Eastern District of Texas just weeks before its December 1, 2016 effective date. The 2016 final rule would have increased the minimum salary for exemption to $913 per week ($47,476 annualized)
Earlier here and here. In addition, DoL is proposing to clarify what times of compensation and benefits employers must include in the overtime calculations.
Separately, DoL’s proposed rule on joint employment
would replace the January 2016 Administrator’s Interpretation on joint employment, which did not go through the notice-and-comment rulemaking process and was withdrawn in June 2017.
Under the FLSA, companies found to be joint employers are jointly liable for all minimum wage and overtime violations. The statute does not include a definition of joint employment and has left this determination to the courts.
The joint employment issue has become increasingly important since the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) dramatically expanded the definition during the Obama administration in the Browning Ferris decision, recently partially affirmed but remanded to the NLRB by the D.C. Circuit. The Trump NLRB has undertaken a rulemaking of its own, proposing to narrow the joint employer definition under the National Labor Relations Act, so as to restore the law, essentially, as it stood prior to Browning Ferris. The NLRB is currently poring over thousands of comments filed for and against its proposed rule. A final joint employer rule is expected from that agency by year end.
The joint employment concept is important because, among other matters, it determines when one employer (typically larger) can be held liable for the actions of another, such as a contractor or franchisee. The proposal would adopt a definition of joint employer originating in a 1983 Ninth Circuit decision in Bonnette v. California Health and Welfare Agency, which does not sweep as broadly as the later definition adopted by the NLRB in Browning-Ferris and by the Obama administration. More: McCutchen podcast on all three issues.
- Not headed to Gotham after all: “The RWDSU union was interested in organizing the Whole Foods grocery store workers, a subsidiary owned by Amazon, and they deployed several ‘community based organizations’ (which RWDSU funds) to oppose the Amazon transaction as negotiation leverage. It backfired.” [Alex Tabarrok]
- “NLRB reverses course and restores some sense to its concerted activity rules” [Jon Hyman, earlier]
- Among papers at the Hoover Institution’s conference last summer on “Land, Labor, and the Rule of Law”: Diana Furchtgott-Roth, “Executive Branch Overreach in Labor Regulation” discusses persuader, fiduciary, overtime, joint employer, independent contractor, federal contract blacklist, campus recruitment as age discrimination, and more; Price Fishback, “Rule of Law in Labor Relations, 1898-1940” on how reducing violence was a key objective of pro-union laws, anti-union laws, and arbitration laws; and related video; Christos Andreas Makridis, “Do Right-to-Work Laws Work? Evidence from Individual Well-being and Economic Sentiment” (“Contrary to conventional wisdom, RTW laws raise employee well-being and sentiment by improving workplace conditions and culture”) and related video;
- Relief coming on NLRB’s Browning-Ferris joint employer initiative? [Federalist Society panel video with Richard Epstein, Richard F. Griffin, Jr., Philip Miscimarra, moderated by Judge Timothy Tymkovich; Philip Rosen et al., Jackson Lewis; earlier]
- “Production company hires union labor after Boston officials allegedly threaten to withhold permits for music festivals. District court: Can’t try the officials for extortion because they didn’t obtain any personal benefit; the alleged benefits went to the union. First Circuit: The indictment should not have been dismissed.” [John K. Ross, IJ “Short Circuit,” on U.S. v. Brissette, earlier]
- In 1922 a brutal mob attack resulted in the slaughter of 23 strikebreakers in Herrin, Illinois. Maybe something that should be taught in schools? [Robby Soave, Reason]
- Great moments in public employee unionism, cont’d: D.C. Metro track inspector charged after derailment with falsifying records wins reinstatement and back pay in arbitration [Max Smith, WTOP, earlier here (similar after fatal smoke incident) and here] Could be permanent? “Bus drivers’ union threatens strike over driverless buses” [Jason Aubry, WCMH (Columbus, Ohio)]
- Letting guests skip housekeeping = grievance: “Union Threatens Strike over Marriott’s Green Initiative” [Darrell VanDeusen, Kollman & Saucier]
- Stephen Bainbridge series on what’s wrong with Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s proposals [earlier, etc.] continues with a post on labor co-determination and employee involvement in corporate governance;
- “Public Sector Unions Win Big at the California Supreme Court: California citizens must now meet and confer with union bosses before qualifying any compensation-related initiatives for the ballot.” [Steven Greenhut, Reason]
- My Frederick News Post letter to the editor opposing Question D (mandatory binding arbitration and collective bargaining for career firefighters). More on mandatory binding arbitration in the public sector: Ivan Osorio et al on California, for Cato (see pp. 12 et seq.); Steve Eide, Public Sector Inc., 2013.
- “Waikiki, Hawaii hotel workers decline to join union; the union demands they pay full dues anyway, starts process to garnish their wages. Does the union’s conduct amount to an unfair labor practice? NLRB: No, the union made an honest mistake. D.C. Circuit: That ‘makes no sense.’ The union never apologized or said it made a mistake. Its message to the workers was, ‘We can do this the easy way, or we can do this the hard way.'” [John Kenneth Ross, IJ “Short Circuit”]
- “For years, a Texas electric utility company and its union feuded over the installation of automated smart meters; the company wanted them; the union didn’t, fearing they would put meter-readers out of work. A repairman for the company testifies to state legislators that the smart meters are combustion prone and damaging homes. Company: Which isn’t true. You’re fired. NLRB: Can’t fire him. His testimony was protected union activity. D.C Circuit: Maybe not. We’re very deferential to the Board, but even so, the NLRB’s reasoning here is ‘too opaque.'” [John Kenneth Ross, Short Circuit, on Oncor v. NLRB]
- May Day replay: What happened at the Haymarket Affair? [John J. Miller] A Wikipedia footnote [Timothy Messer-Kruse, Chronicle of Higher Education]
- Decline in number of U.S. manufacturing jobs is not owing to decline in unionization [Colin Grabow, Cato]
- More for the “I thought contractual non-union arbitration was just a racket to benefit employers” files [Eric B. Meyer, Employer Handbook (prospective “tsunami” of arbitration claims against chain restaurant); Daniel Schwartz (exotic dancers win big in private arbitration)]
- “Regulating the Modern Workforce,” Federalist Society Regulatory Transparency Project symposium video with James C. Cooper, Clark Neily, Ryan Nunn, Gabriel Scheffler, John Yun;
- “Consumers do not have the option of abandoning unionized public services if they become too expensive and inefficient, as they can do with unionized services in the private sector.” [Chris Edwards, Cato on Janus v. AFSCME]
- “I’m lovin’ it: McDonald’s settles joint employer case with NLRB” [Jon Hyman] Will NLRB junk its joint employer doctrine once and for all? [Scott Shackford, Reason, in December] String of welcome NLRB rulings on other topics in late 2017 [Sharon Block, On Labor, who should not be held responsible for my evaluation of the decisions as welcome] More: Connor Wolf, Inside Sources;
- Union opt-out window at U.S. Dept. of Education will be open more than one 48-hour period per year [Frederick Hess and Grant Addison, AEI] Spot the logical flaw: claim that Janus and Masterpiece Cakeshop cases could combine to create new First Amendment right for public school teachers to strike [Andrew Strom, On Labor]
- Eighth Circuit: federal labor law doesn’t protect workers against firing over IWW flyer-posting campaign falsely claiming restaurant’s food is unsafe [Daniel Pasternak, Employment Law Worldview; earlier here and here on Jimmy John’s/MikLin dispute]
- Mark Pulliam remembers a giant of labor law, Prof. Sylvester Petro [Misrule of Law]
- In Britain, Royal Mail cooperates with some of its union locals after they vote not to deliver Mr. Murdoch’s Sun paper to homes [Adam Withnall, Independent]
- One libertarian economist’s view of right to work laws [David R. Henderson] Municipal home rule ventures into labor regulation can work both ways: “Local Right-to-Work Case Has National Implications” [Connor Wolf, Inside Sources on Lincolnshire, Ill. RTW ordinance before Seventh Circuit]