• Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed the Fair and Open Competition in Governmental Construction Act (S.B. 165) into law, preventing government entities from entering into construction contracts that either discourage bidders from entering into collective bargaining agreements or discriminate against bidders who refuse to participate in labor agreements. Specifically, the act prohibits references to Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) in bid specifications or other “controlling documents” related to public projects and would prohibit government entities from using PLAs as a condition for grants or tax credits. Gov. Snyder stated that the new law would encourage competition and give “everyone an equal opportunity to compete for jobs.”
  • Linda Puchala took over as chairman of the three-member panel of the National Mediation Board. The NMB regulates labor-management relations at nearly 500 railroads and 100 airlines under the Railway Labor Act. Puchala succeeds fellow Democrat Harry Hoglander. This is Puchala’s first three-year term, she initially chaired the board from May 2009 until June 30, 2009 when she completed the term of her predecessor.
  • In a 238-183 vote, the House defeated a floor amendment to a fiscal year 2012 spending measure (H.R. 2354) that would have prevented the application of the Davis-Bacon Act requirements for federal energy and water projects. The Davis-Bacon Act requires contractors to pay workers a prevailing wage, determined by the Labor Department, for projects that are valued at less than $20 million and are funded by H.R. 2354. With a vote of 219-196, the House passed the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act without the amendment.
  • The NLRB denied requests by three Republican senators and nine associations to postpone a public meeting, which subsequently took place July 18 in Washington, D.C., on the Board’s proposal to amend its representation case regulations. The proposed rules would streamline litigation and limit the availability of Board review in representation cases by allowing the Board to conduct representation elections in a shorter period of time after the filing of a petition for a secret ballot election. Senators and associations had requested a postponement in order to submit written comments on the proposed changes. The Board stated that parties unable to attend the hearing could file written comments by August 22, 2011. In further response to Board’s proposed amendments, on July 27, 2011, Senator Jim DeMint and six co-sponsors proposed S. 1425, the “Fair Representation in Elections Act” that would amend the NLRA and prevent the NLRB from conducting an election to resolve a question of union representation of workers less than 40 calendar days after the Board received a petition for such an election. The proposed Act would also require the Board to provide at least 14 days notice before conducting a pre-election hearing on representation case issues.
  • Stating that NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe E. Soloman has not satisfied requests for documents concerning the unfair labor practice complaint against Boeing Co., the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will consider the use of “compulsory process” if the documents are not turned over within two weeks (by July 26, 2011). Soloman has submitted some documentation to the Committee, but has resisted handing over some case-related documents on the grounds that it “could seriously compromise the litigation and result in an unfair advantage to one litigant over the other.” The Committee’s inquiries concern the NLRB unfair labor practice complaint alleging Boeing unlawfully established an additional assembly line for the production of 787 aircrafts at a nonunion plant in South Carolina in order to retaliate against union workers in a Washington state plant.
  • Also related to the Boeing matter, the House Education and Workforce Committee approved a federal labor law amendment, a substitute version of “Protecting Jobs From Government Interference Act” (H.R. 2587), in a vote along party lines. The amendment, aimed at blocking the NLRB from ordering Boeing Co. to restore jetliner production to Washington state, will strip the NLRB of authority to order or seek an employer’s restoration or reinstatement of work or business activity as a remedy for an employer’s unfair labor practices.
  • Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois signed H.B. 2987, the Illinois Project Labor Agreement Act (Public Act 97-0199) into law on July 27, 2011. This new law promotes the use of project labor agreements on state public works projects, creating specific participation for minority and female workers and fair-bidding provisions for minority- and women-owned businesses. The Act codifies Quinn’s previous Executive Order 2010-3, issued March 31, 2010, that required state departments under governor control to include PLAs on certain state-funded construction projects.
  • The reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration is being obstructed mainly by disagreements over a change to representation election procedures for airline workers — based on policy objections from Delta Air Lines. Delta objects to a National Mediation Board rule promulgated last year that makes it easier for airline employees to unionize. This rule requires only a simply majority of votes to be case in favor of unionization for a union to be certified as representative of a bargaining unit. The House version of a four-year FAA reauthorization bill (H.R. 658), which passed in April, contains a provision that would repeal the rule, while a Senate version of the bill (S. 223), passed in February, does contain the provision. The differences between the versions are to be resolved in a conference committee.