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With a few key strokes, the NLRB yesterday, in a 3-2 decision down party lines, wiped away years of precedent and re-wrote, or, in its words “refined,” the definition of a joint employer. In a ruling that will, if upheld through inevitable appeals, significantly impact the franchise, outsourcing and many other industries, the NLRB decided a California company, Browning-Ferris Industries, was a joint employer of workers hired by a staffing firm.

The anxiously-awaited proposed changes in regulations defining the FLSA's executive, administrative, professional, outside-sales, and derivative exemptions have been published by the U.S. Labor Department for public consideration and comment.

Recently, bills addressing localities’ ability to enact paid sick leave and minimum wage laws (and possibly any local laws governing private employment) were introduced in each chamber of the New Jersey Legislature. The bills, A.B. 4363 and S.B. 2865, would prohibit cities, counties, and other local entities from increasing the minimum wage or adopting mandatory paid sick leave requirements for private employers.

The legislation, if enacted ...

Currently, harassment, stalking and threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction are all crimes – unless you are a union member engaged in a labor dispute. Yesterday, April 22, 2015, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a bill to end the crimes code carveout allowing parties to a labor dispute to stalk, harass, and make deadly threats.

On Tuesday (April 14, 2015), the Pennsylvania Senate approved a bill that would invalidate Philadelphia's new mandatory paid sick-leave ordinance, which is scheduled to go into effect on May 13, 2015. Mayor Nutter finally signed the Philly ordinance on February 12, 2015, after vetoing similar legislation in 2011 and 2013. Sen. John Eichelberger (R., Blair), who sponsored the state bill, called Philadelphia's sick-leave law "a mistake."

Unless you were completely ignoring the news over the past couple of weeks, it was difficult to miss the debate spurred by the religious freedom bills that were passed in both Indiana and Arkansas. This nationwide debate refocused attention on what many people believe to be pervasive discrimination against individuals on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. As this debate was ongoing, many people (lawyers and non-lawyers alike) were surprised to learn that sexual orientation and gender identity are not protected classifications under federal and many state anti-discrimination statutes. Congress now appears poised to address this issue head-on.

Today, business in this country got a double dose of bad news when, first the President vetoed a joint resolution under the Congressional Review Act that sought to block implementation of the National Labor Relations Board's controversial amendments to its regulations for processing union representation cases, and the National Labor Relations Board decided the “mother” of all social media cases.

In the words of House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN), “Today, Congress voted to stop an unelected board of bureaucrats from trampling on the rights of America’s workers and job creators.” The House voted today to join the Senate and send a resolution to President Obama blocking the National Labor Relations Board’s Ambush Election Rule, implemented on December 12, 2014 and scheduled to take effect next month, on April 14, 2015.

The National Labor Relations Board and various union-backed organizations are ratcheting up efforts aimed at changing the landscape of who qualifies as a joint employer. Right now, these aggressive efforts are most pronounced in the franchise industry where the NLRB and other organizations continue to push an agenda of making franchisors, McDonald’s for example, joint employers with franchisees. As part of this ongoing campaign, the NLRB’s general counsel issued a ruling finding that McDonald’s should be treated as a joint employer with franchisees.

On Monday morning, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin signed the “right to work” bill, which was passed by the Wisconsin State Assembly on Friday, March 6th. Governor Walker’s signature makes Wisconsin the 25th state to enact a “right to work” law. State “right to work” laws permit workers to choose not to join or pay fees to a union. Wisconsin’s law takes effect immediately, but collective bargaining agreements currently in place will not be impacted until it is time to extend, modify, or renew them.

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