President Obama signed an Executive Order (Order) requiring prospective federal contractors to disclose labor violations and efforts to correct them. The Order also prohibits contractors for federal contracts of $1 million or more from requiring workers to sign pre-dispute arbitration agreements covering certain civil rights and tort claims. The disclosure provisions in the President’s Order apply only to those employers with new federal procurement contracts for goods and services exceeding $500,000, and certain subcontractors. According to a White House Fact Sheet, the Order will be implemented on new contracts in stages, on a prioritized basis, during 2016. The Order will not take effect until new implementing regulations are in place. See our recent client briefing for more details, President Obama Issues Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order.
Sen. David Vitter (R-La) introduced the Freedom from Union Violence Act, which would punish violence related to union organizing efforts by monetary penalties potential prison time. The AFL-CIO denounces the bill as being an attempt to intimidate workers from joining unions. The bill has 17 co-sponsors and the lead House sponsor is Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga).
President Obama reappointed Sharon Block to the NLRB. Block’s previous recess appointment to the Board was invalidated by the Court’s ruling in Noel Canning. The Democratic-controlled Senate is expected to confirm her reappointment.
Harry Hoglander (D) took over as chairman of the National Mediation Board (NMB) from Linda Puchala (D). The NMB chairman position rotates each year. Hoglander, a NMB member since 2002, previously served as chairman in 2004-2005, 2007-2008, 2010-2011, and 2012-2013. Also currently on the NMB is Puchala and Nicholas Geale. The NMB regulates labor-management relations for approximately 100 airlines and 500 railroads subject to the Railway Labor Act.
Congressmen Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and John Lewis (D-Ga.) introduced the Employee Empowerment Act, which would allow for a private right of action under NLRA Section 8(a)(3), which prohibits discrimination against workers based on union membership. The proposed right to bring a private action would provide the opportunity for an employee to seek front pay and punitive damages, in addition to NLRB reinstatement and back pay remedies.
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) introduced the Union Transparency and Accountability Act (S.2688) requiring labor organizations to disclose financial interests in some types of trusts, asset purchase and sale information, and potential conflicts of interest. The bill would reinstate rules issued during the George W. Bush administration that the U.S. Department of Labor rescinded in 2009 and 2010.