Labor law issues again have taken a leading role in Washington politics.  As reported on this blog recently, two controversial GOP-supported bills are currently before the House Education and Workforce Committee.  See, NLRA Amendments Introduced in Congress. While their passage is extremely unlikely, given the Democrat majority in the Senate, the issues addressed by both bills may be resolved by judicial action.

On the Hill:

Secret Ballot Protection Act (H.R. 2346) – would amend the NLRA to prohibit union recognition by employers without a secret-ballot NLRB election, a practice known as voluntary recognition, or more commonly, “card check.”

The bill was introduced on June 13th, and referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.  The Committee held hearings on June 26th.  The bill is still in Committee.   In the Courts:

However, the Supreme Court has just agreed to hear a case in which a card check arrangement has been challenged as unlawful on the ground it provides an impermissible “thing of value” to a labor union. (UNITE HERE Local 355 v. Mulhall, U.S., No. 12-99).  If the Court rules against the union, card check recognition could be eliminated or severely limited, although the issue of employee free choice is not squarely presented to the Court. 

On the Hill:

Representation Fairness Restoration Act (H.R. 2347) – would override the NLRB’s Specialty Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center decision.  That decision changed the NLRB’s traditional standards for determining bargaining unit composition – enabling unions to tailor smaller bargaining units to maximize their election success -- causing much concern among employers.  Introduced on June 13th, the bill also was a subject of the hearing on June 26th.  The bill is still in Committee.

In the Courts:

But opponents of Specialty Healthcare are not without remedy.  The employer in that case has sought judicial review of the case in the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.  A decision is expected at any time

Here at the Labor & Collective Bargaining Blog we are not setting odds on the outcome of these landmark cases, but if change is to happen, it’s far more likely to occur in the Court than in Congress.  Keep reading these pages for further details.