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Showing 8 posts in Union.

Facebook is Not a Picket Line

The National Labor Relations Act protects the rights of employees to connect and address conditions at work, and recent decisions have held that this protection extends to certain work-related conversations on social media.[1] However, it has yet to be determined exactly how far this protection will reach. More >

Employers – Are You Prepared for New NLRB Election Rules?

On April 14th, the new National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) election rules came into effect, creating a potential headache for employers. Perhaps most critically, the timeline between the initial petition for union election and the election itself may be as short as 13 days, giving employers limited notice of potential union organization and activity. These accelerated elections are derisively (but maybe not unjustly) referred to as “ambush” or “quickie” elections. More >

NLRB Continues to Expand its Reach

In two recent actions, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) continued its activist role in supporting labor unions’ organizing efforts. In one case, the NLRB expanded “micro-units” to the retail industry. In another instance, the NLRB entered into a reciprocal arrangement with the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) to assist in enforcing the Occupational Safety and Health Act (“OSHA”) and the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).

In Macy’s, Inc. v. Local 1445, United Food and Commercial Workers Union, decided on July 22, 2014, the NLRB permitted the cosmetic and fragrance workers employed in a single Macy’s store in Massachusetts to organize. This marked the first time that the NLRB had approved a so-called “micro-unit” in the retail industry. The Board rejected Macy’s argument that permitting the UFCWU to organize cosmetic and fragrance workers in one store would “allow a proliferation of micro-units based solely on the products sold by employees,” resulting in “chaos and disruption of business.”

The Macy’s decision extended the principle, enunciated in Specialty Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center of Mobile, 357 NLRB No. 83 (2011), that it was “appropriate” under Section 9 of the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”), 29 U.S.C. § 159(b), for a labor union to organize and represent a small group of employees at a single worksite. That case involved certified nursing assistants in an extended care facility. The federal appellate court that includes Kentucky upheld the Board’s decision in the healthcare industry in Kindred Nursing Centers East, LLC. V. NLRB (6th Cir. 2013).

Before Specialty Healthcare, labor unions had traditionally attempted to organize the largest number of employees per unit. Now their strategy is to target smaller units to counter broader employer organizing avoidance efforts. Smaller units will be easier to organize, and union elections could be held quickly, giving employers little time to react. Furthermore, multiple labor organizations could seek to organize several different groups of employees in a single facility.

The Board has also become involved in enforcement actions beyond the NLRA. In a recent memorandum, the NLRB’s General Counsel advised regional directors that when investigating unfair labor practices (“ULP”) charges, investigators should encourage each charging party to file a claim if the person “divulges facts that suggest that an employer may have committed a possible [OSHA or FLSA] violation.”  Before this action, the Board had already enlisted the assistance of DOL employees investigating OSHA whistleblower complaints to encourage claimants to file ULP charges to take advantage of the NLRA’s longer statute of limitations.

For the next two years at least, the NLRB will likely continue to develop new ways to expand its reach into the employer-employee relationship. Employers should perform frequent workplace audits to ensure that they are in the best position to minimize problems in labor-management relations. For more information, contact your MMLK employment law attorney.

 Kembra Sexton Taylor

Kembra Sexton Taylor, a partner located in the firm’s Frankfort office, practices in the areas of labor and employment, personnel, administrative, regulatory, appellate, and insurance defense law. She has extensive experience in representing clients regarding wage and hour, OSHA, state personnel, and other regulatory matters. She can be reached at taylor@mmlklaw.com or (502) 223-1200.

This article is intended as a summary of federal and state law and does not constitute legal advice.

What Does the Northwestern Decision Mean for Unions?

It is not often that a decision from the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) makes headlines, but the recent decision declaring Northwestern scholarship football players as “employees” of the university has done just that. While those in the sports world are theorizing about the ruling’s impact on college athletics, the decision does offer another takeaway. More >

Does the Northwestern Decision Change the Direction of College Athletics?

On March 26, 2014, Peter Ohr, Regional Director for the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”), issued a landmark decision: a group of Northwestern football players receiving scholarships qualify as employees of their university, and have the right to form a union and bargain collectively. The decision followed after a petition was filed by the College Athletes Players Association (“CAPA”), led by former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter. The university opposed the petition, arguing that scholarship football players are akin to stipend-receiving graduate student assistants, who have historically been categorized as non-employees by the NLRB. More >

Court of Appeals Decisions Will Stick on the NLRB Poster Rule

In August of 2011, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) approved a poster rule requiring businesses to post notifications reminding workers about their right to unionize. Employers and business groups that felt the rule was one-sided and pro-union subsequently challenged the rule and were victorious in two separate U.S. Circuit Courts. More >

NLRB's Poster Rule Struck Down by D.C. Circuit

On May 7, the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia struck down a National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) ruling that would have required millions of private employers, both union and non-union, to put up posters alerting employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”). The poster informed employees of their right to join and/or form a union, collectively bargain with employers, and act jointly to improve wages or working conditions. More >

Right to Work Bills Surface in the Kentucky House

Representative Jim DeCesare (R-Bowling Green) sponsored four bills, HB 308, 309, 311, and 312, that, if passed, would add Kentucky to the growing list of “right to work” states in the country. The House Labor and Industry Committee heard the bills on February 12th, but no vote was taken. All four are currently posted in committee. More >

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