UAW trying different approach to unionize Volkswagen plant

July 11, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

Despite two failed attempts to unionize the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the United Auto Workers (UAW) on July 10 announced the creation of Local 42, a local that Chattanooga VW workers can join voluntarily.

“We’ve had ongoing discussions with Volkswagen and have arrived at a consensus with the company,” Gary Casteel, the UAW’s secretary-treasurer, said in a statement about the union’s latest move. “Upon Local 42 signing up a meaningful portion of Volkswagen’s Chattanooga workforce, we’re confident the company will recognize Local 42 by dealing with it as a members’ union that represents those employees who join the local. As part of this consensus, the UAW is committed to continuing its joint efforts with Volkswagen to ensure the company’s expansion and growth in Chattanooga.”

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New Louisiana law prohibits employers from seeking social media passwords

by Josh Wood and H. Mark Adams

Louisiana’s new Personal Online Account Privacy Protection Act (House Bill 340) goes into effect August 1. It precludes employers from requesting or requiring employees and job applicants to disclose any username or password that allows access to their personal online accounts.

The law prohibits employers from discharging or disciplining employees or from refusing to hire applicants who won’t divulge their personal information. The law allows employers to request or require employees to disclose usernames or passwords to gain access to or operate electronic communication devices paid for or supplied in whole or in part by the company or to gain access to or operate any account or service provided by the employer or used for its business purposes.

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Comment period on $10.10 minimum wage rules ends July 28

July 09, 2014 - by: HR Hero Alerts 0 COMMENTS

by Rachael E. Luzietti

The comment period for the proposed rule to implement President Barack Obama’s Executive Order to raise the minimum wage for employees working on government contracts ends July 28. Those interested in having their voices heard should submit comments at www.regulations.gov.

In February, Obama issued Executive Order 13658, which mandates a minimum hourly wage of $10.10 to be paid by employers contracting with the federal government. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking on June 17 to implement the order.

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Georgia’s new gun law has implications for employers

by Leanne Mehrman and Chelsey McDade

Georgia’s newest gun law, the Safe Carry Protection Act of 2014, goes into effect on July 1 and greatly expands the list of places where licensed gun owners may legally carry their weapons to include schools, government buildings, churches, and bars. Employers, however, can take advantage of certain limits in the law.

Although the law is known as the “guns everywhere” law, employers should be aware of the law’s limits and consider how it affects personnel policies and workplace safety.

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High court lets Hobby Lobby, others opt out of contraception coverage under ACA

June 30, 2014 - by: Jessica Webb-Ayer 3 COMMENTS

The U.S. Supreme Court reviewed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) again this term, and today, it held in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. that the ACA’s contraceptive mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) as it is applied to “closely held corporations.” According to the Court’s 5-4 opinion, the mandate “substantially burdens the exercise of religion.”

Under the ACA (and related Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regulations), many health insurance plans must cover certain preventive services for women without cost sharing (e.g., coinsurance, copayments, and deductibles). These preventive services include contraceptive methods and counseling—or more specifically, “all Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity.”

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Massachusetts set for highest minimum wage in U.S.

by Susan G. Fentin

Massachusetts is set to soon have the highest minimum wage in the country. On June 26, Governor Deval Patrick signed a bill that will raise the state’s minimum wage from $8 per hour to $11 an hour by 2017, the highest statewide minimum wage in the country and a full 50 percent higher than the current federal rate of $7.25 per hour.

The new law puts Massachusetts ahead of Vermont, which enacted a law on June 9 raising its minimum wage to $10.50 by 2018. Before the Massachusetts action, Vermont was poised to have the highest minimum wage in the country. Washington state has the highest current minimum wage—$9.32 per hour.

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Obama’s three NLRB recess appointments were invalid, Supreme Court rules

June 26, 2014 - by: HR Hero Alerts 0 COMMENTS

On June 26, 2014, the U.S Supreme Court unanimously upheld the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Noel Canning v. NLRB, concluding that President Barack Obama’s three recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)—Sharon Block, Richard Griffin, and Terence Flynn—were not valid.  Accordingly, since three out of the five members were invalidly appointed, the NLRB lacked a quorum.  That means Board decisions, including union-friendly rulings on social media, confidentiality rules, and off-duty employee access to the workplace, are now affected and likely invalid

In January 2012, President Obama filled three vacancies on the NLRB while the Senate was on its 20-day holiday break. Republicans objected to the president’s appointments, claiming the Senate wasn’t in recess because it was holding pro forma sessions every few days.

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Utah case puts same-sex marriage issue on track to go before Supreme Court

June 26, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

Utah’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage suffered another blow in a June 25 ruling from the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, and that ruling makes it likely that the issue of same-sex marriage will go before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The 10th Circuit’s decision upheld a December 2013 federal district court ruling that struck down Utah’s ban. The lower court’s ruling was on hold during the state’s appeal to the 10th Circuit.

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New Wyoming law defines misconduct for unemployment benefits

by Bradley T. Cave

A new law taking effect on July 1 defines “misconduct” in Wyoming’s unemployment benefits statute. The definition outlines the circumstances in which a former employee will be disqualified from unemployment benefits.

Wyoming law already states that an employee will be disqualified from benefits if the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services (DWS) finds that he was discharged for “misconduct connected with his work.” But the statute didn’t provide a definition of such misconduct.

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Flexible work, job protection, paid leave at heart of White House summit

June 23, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

President Barack Obama is launching a new effort aimed at increasing protections, opportunities, and wages for workers to create what the White House envisions as a 21st century workplace.

The president, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Dr. Jill Biden are hosting the White House Summit on Working Families on June 23. The agenda calls for sessions focusing on hourly workers, compensation, the structure of the workplace, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) careers, and nontraditional jobs, among other topics.

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