``Welcome back to the White House`` quipped Vice President Biden last Friday to union officials, including Teamsters President James P. Hoffa, who were gathered to watch the signing of new Executive Orders by President Obama.
As predicted in Gardere`s November 2008 Client Alert, pro-union policies are at the forefront of President Obama`s agenda. On Friday, Jan. 30, 2009, he signed three executive orders that reverse many of President Bush`s policies towards organized labor. The orders President Obama signed are applicable to federal contractors and subcontractors holding contracts valued at more than $100,000.
Notice of Employee Rights.
The first executive order will require federal contractors to post a ``balanced notice of their employees` rights`` under the National Labor Relations Act. The AFL-CIO lobbied for this change, which reverses a rule that required companies to post a notice informing employees that they had a right to work for the contractor without joining a union. Now, employees will be informed of their pro- and anti-union rights.
Retaining Contract Employees.
The second executive order requires that when a federal agency changes contractors, the new company must first offer jobs to the nonsupervisory employees who worked for the previous contractor. It also applies to contractors providing services to federal buildings. This was the rule under President Clinton, but President Bush had voided it.
Denying Reimbursement for Anti-Union Messages.
This order prevents federal contractors from being reimbursed for money they spend to ``support or deter their employees` exercise of their right to form unions and engage in collective bargaining,`` a clear message to companies with federal contracts that the President does not want them to engage in any anti-union behavior.
Vice President Biden promised that the Obama administration will get to the Card Check rule, the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), this year.
It is never too early to start training management about how to recognize and respond to the signs of union activity and to educate your employees about how unions try to organize. You want to be the first person to talk to your employees about an authorization card - not the union.