Labor union advocates, backed by the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, launched UnionSignUp.com—a website that allows labor union administrators to offer online membership and political action enrollment forms to current or potential members. Labor union advocates hope that the website will make union membership more accessible to young workers.
In a letter dated June 5, 2018, NLRB Chairman John Ring reaffirmed the Board’s commitment to its ethical obligations and confirmed that the Board will engage in a rule-making process to address the 2015 Browning-Ferris joint-employer decision. Chairman Ring’s letter was written in response to a May 2018 letter authored by Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Kristen Gillibrand, alleging that the Board was seeking to overturn the Browning-Ferris joint-employer standard through unethical means.
At a Cornell University event in New York City, NLRB Chairman John Ring told attorneys and agency regional officials that the new Board seeks to bring “balance” to the agency, as it has shifted too far in favor of workers’ rights. In order to effectuate this “balance,” Chairman Ring stated that the board would 1) eliminate unnecessary rules and regulations that burden businesses; 2) provide clarity and predictability to its interpretations of federal labor law; 3) adjudicate labor disputes in a timely manner; and 4) avoid taking sides in unionization disagreements.
According to Pew Research Center’s annual survey on public opinion and unions in the United States, 51 percent of respondents agreed that the “reduction in union representation over the past 20 years has been mostly bad for working people,” while 35 percent of respondents agreed that the reduction was “mostly good.” Moreover, 55 percent of respondents stated that they have favorable opinions of unions and 53 percent of respondents stated that they have favorable opinions of business corporations. In contrast, 68 percent of respondents aged 18–29 stated that they had favorable opinions of unions and only 46 percent of respondents aged 18–29 stated that they had favorable opinions of business corporations.
President Trump appointed Richard Giacolone to Acting Director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS). As Acting Director, Giacolone will be responsible for mediating disputes between parties that have failed to come to an agreement over various labor issues, such as strikes, lockouts, and bargaining agreements.
United Auto Workers (UAW) delegates have elected Gary Jones, a UAW regional director, to succeed Dennis Williams as president of the UAW. In Jones’s first speech as UAW president, Jones encouraged members to contribute to the UAW’s political action committee, V-Cap, and to support only those politicians who champion organized labor. Jones also emphasized the UAW’s renewed commitment to unionization in the South, as the UAW has recently lost a variety of unionization bids in the region.
In an effort to reduce its field staff and operate within its budget, the NLRB plans to offer buyouts and early retirement to its employees who qualify. These payment programs—referred to as a Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA) and Voluntary Separation Incentive Payment (VSIP), respectively—have already been approved by the Office of Personnel Management.
The United States Department of Labor (DOL) and Department of Justice (DOJ) filed status reports in cases within the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, and the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, notifying the courts that the DOL was about to release a new regulation that will revoke the Obama-era “persuader” rule. These cases represent just a few of the many suits challenging the “persuader” rule, which currently requires employers to report any “actions, conduct or communications” undertaken to “affect an employee’s decisions regarding his or her representation or collective bargaining rights.” Associated Builders and Contractors of Ark., et al. v. R. Alexander Acosta, et al., Case No. 4:16-cv-00169 (E.D. Ark.); Labnet Inc., et al. v. U.S. Dep’t of Labor, et al., Case Number 0:16-cv-00844 (D. Minn.); Nat’l Fed. of Indep. Bus., et al. v. R. Alexander Acosta, et al., Case Nos. 17-10328, 17-10054 (5th Cir.).
At its convention in Atlantic City, N.J., the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) announced that Paul Shearon and Matt Biggs will assume the positions of IFPTE President and Secretary-Treasurer, respectively. IFPTE’s former President, Greg Junemann, declined to seek re-election after holding the position since 2001. The IFPTE, which represents approximately 80,000 public and private employees in the U.S. and Canada, has vowed to develop new strategies to address the U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus v. AFSCME decision.