Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Unions Counting On Obama’s NLRB To Shake Up Policies

Unions are uncertain about the fate of EFCA,  a top priority in their effort to overhaul labor policies. In an effort to make sure they leave no stone unturned, unions have begun to focus their attention on changing policy through the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that unions are counting on President Obama’s appointees to the NLRB to “reverse Bush-era rulings they say hamper their efforts to organize workers.”

Law firms are advising business clients to be aware of potentially dramatic policy shifts. McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP, a law firm, warned in a report that President Obama’s two nominees – pro-labor lawyers Craig Becker and Mark Pearce – would form NLRB chairman Wilma Liebman to form a “majority bloc distinctly in favor of expanding the rights of unions and workers.”

The Journal reports that the NLRB is expected to face a packed agenda of issues that will affect employer-employee relations:

Once new nominees are in place, the board will face a lengthy agenda of issues including: whether more workers whose jobs fall in the gray area between salaried management and hourly laborers should be allowed to unionize; how much freedom workers should have to use company email systems to promote union membership; how much access union organizers should have to workplaces; and what constitutes unacceptable intimidation by employers seeking to oppose union organizing drives.

Some lawyers have warned of a dramatic shift in policy:

“I think we can predict that the landscape will change as quickly as cases get to the board where they can overrule” precedent, said Ken Yerkes, chairman of the labor and employment practice at Indianapolis corporate law firm Barnes & Thornburg LLP.

Becker and Pearce’s background and history with the labor movement give business owners every reason to be wary.
Becker is the counsel for the SEIU and has written articles in which he suggests that employers should not play a legitimate role in the organizing process. Pearce is a founding partner of a pro-labor law firm.

Given their ideological dispositions, it’s not a surprise that unions are counting on Liebman, Becker, and Pearce to implement pro-labor policies, even if labor is unsuccessful in Congress.

Categories: Center for Union FactsEFACNews