Speaking at the annual legislative conference for North America’s Building Trades Unions, Hillary Clinton vowed, if elected, to fight attacks against prevailing wage laws, protect labor agreements, oppose efforts to bring about a national right-to-work law, and remain a “champion” for organized labor.
President Obama re-nominated NLRB member Kent Y. Hirozawa to a five-year term expiring in 2021. Hirozawa is serving the final months of his first term on the Board. Hirozawa’s nomination is part of a deal Obama struck with the Senate to avert filibuster on two executive branch nominees, which called for Obama to withdraw recess appointments and select two new Board members, including Hirozawa, who the senate agreed to move swiftly through confirmation.
Teamsters, as well as other unions, urged Congress to support two pieces of pension legislation and to oppose a request to cut benefits currently before the Treasury Department. The Treasury Department has until May 7 to approve or deny the Central States, Southeast and Southwest Area Pension Fund’s, a multiemployer fund, request to reduce benefits to roughly 400,000 Teamsters-represented workers and retirees. The fund sponsors claim that the cuts would rescue the fund from insolvency. The fund is the first multiemployer fund to seek approval of a rescue plan under the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act (MPRA), passed in 2014, generally intended to save ailing pension funds by giving administrators the power to reduce benefits. The fund states that expected payouts exceed contributions by more than $2 billion. The union is urging Congress to support the Keep Our Pension Promises Act, which would repeal the MPRA’s benefit cutback provision. Members are also asking Congress to support the Pension Accountability Act, which does have some bipartisan support, and would allow majority of plan participants and beneficiaries who cast a vote, to stop a proposed pension cut.
Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Ala) submitted a joint resolution calling for a Congressional Review Act (CRA) challenge to the DOL persuader rule. The rule expands reporting requirements under Section 203 of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, requiring employers to disclose the hiring of a third-party attorney or other consultant to prevent its employees form organizing. See DOL Issues Final Persuader Rule for more information. The CRA allows Congress to block regulations though a joint resolution of disapproval passed by both chambers, giving Congress 60 legislative days to review the rules, during which time the regulation cannot go into effect.
The U.S. House of Representatives voted, 234-183, in favor of a resolution intended to block the DOL’s “fiduciary rule” from going into effect. The resolution would formally disapprove of the DOL’s recent redefinition of “fiduciary” under ERISA to include investment advisers. The White House has backed the fiduciary rule, and President Obama will likely veto the resolution. See DOL Issues New Fiduciary Rule Under ERISA and New and Amended Class Prohibited Transaction Exemptions.
According to Representative Bill Flores (R-Texas), republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have asserted that they will once again try to block the NLRB’s recent joint employer ruling in Browning-Ferris Industries of California Inc. The Board expanded joint employer liability under federal labor by holding that a business may be liable as a joint employer if it indirectly controls an employment relationship or has reserved the right to do so. See NLRB Adopts New Standard for Determining Joint-Employer Status for more information onBrowning-Ferris.
AFL-CIO leaders and several other labor and immigration rights groups planned to hold rallies across the U.S. on May 1, International Workers Day, to protect what they view as racist and xenophobic campaign rhetoric from Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Union representatives stated that immigrant workers are being “aggressively attacked” by the candidates, including by stating that they would repeal deferred action for childhood arrivals.
Pennsylvania’s Democratic governor, Tom Wolf, signed into law the GOP-backed Senate Bill 644 which will require independent fiscal analysis of government employee unions. The governor stated that he signed the legislation as part of a broader push for transparency. Democrats in both houses voted overwhelmingly against the bill. The bill tasks the states Independent Fiscal Office with conducting a cost analysis of all public sector union bargaining agreements. Fourteen contracts, covering some 44,600 state employees and about $3 billion in costs to the state, are set to expire at the end of June.