Public Comment Period Open on NLRB’s Union-Streamlining Rules

June 23, 2011 0 COMMENTS

Earlier this week, we reported that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has proposed amended rules that would streamline the union election process, making it easier for employees to unionize. The regulations, which appeared in Wednesday’s Federal Register, firmly divide the pro- and antiunion factions, being lauded by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka as “a commonsense approach,” while U.S. Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President of Labor, Immigration, and Employee Benefits Randel Johnson summed the rules up as a “blatant attempt to give unions the upper hand.”

Michael Leahy, an associate with the Springfield, Massachusetts, law firm Skoler, Abbott & Presser, P.C., also weighed in on the proposed rules, noting that “the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is not unexpected, but is unwelcome among management-side labor and employment attorneys.”

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NLRB Proposed Rules Would Streamline Unionization Process, Reducing Employers’ Time to Act

June 21, 2011 3 COMMENTS

Wednesday’s Federal Register will feature a set of proposed amendments to National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) regulations that, if adopted, could significantly simplify the process wherein workers vote whether to unionize, reducing employers’ time to react to unionization efforts.

According to a press release from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the proposed rules would streamline the representation election process by “reduc[ing] unnecessary litigation, streamlin[ing] pre- and post-election procedures, and facilitat[ing] the use of electronic communications and document filing.”

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Summer Will Be Sweltering for 1,000 Employers Caught in Latest ICE Crackdown

June 16, 2011 2 COMMENTS

Temperatures aren’t the only things heating up this week. On Wednesday, June 15, the Obama administration shifted the ever-intensifying immigration dialogue back to federal turf when U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that it will begin conducting its second round of immigration audits this year.

Authorities with ICE, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, declined to name the businesses that will be targeted or their locations, but at least 1,000 companies soon will be subject to inspection of their I-9 forms and other hiring records. The businesses range in size and reportedly include those “critical to infrastructure and key resources.”

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DOL Cleanup Regs Enact Technical Changes While Rejecting More Substantive Concerns

May 05, 2011 0 COMMENTS

On April 5, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a set of final “cleanup” regulations, bringing the existing Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulations up to date with the technical changes and statutory enactments that have passed over the past few years. For example, the regulations, which took effect today, update figures and computations to reflect the updated federal minimum wage, which increased to $7.25 per hour in 2009.

Yet what is more interesting about these regulations, which were initially proposed in mid-2008, is what they chose not to do. Despite receiving numerous comments over the nearly three-year period during which these proposed regulations were up for review, the DOL simply chose to defer consideration of the more substantive matters that were addressed by the original regulations, reducing the 29-page ruling to little more than technical cleanup.

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Nashville Council Passes Antidiscrimination Ordinance

April 06, 2011 0 COMMENTS

Nashville has joined more than 100 other localities across the nation that prohibit firms and contractors conducting business with the city from discriminating against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Similar protections were granted to city employees in 2009, and Metro Council members voted 21-15 on Tuesday night to extend the ordinance to cover contractors, which now will be required to sign affidavits of compliance with the new rule.

Mayor Karl Dean has said that he will sign the bill; however, opposition to the new measure could still arise at the state level, as a bill prohibiting such local antidiscrimination measures is currently under debate in state legislative committees.

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Ohio Joins Wisconsin, Idaho in Passing Union-Curbing Legislation

March 31, 2011 0 COMMENTS

Another state has secured victory in the battle to balance struggling state budgets by restricting collective bargaining rights for public-sector employees. Ohio Governor John Kasich has approved Senate Bill (SB) 5, a bill that is in some ways more restrictive than the highly publicized and protested Wisconsin bill that passed earlier this year.

The bill limits collective bargaining rights for public employees by prohibiting negotiations on health care, sick time, and pension benefits. Public employees would still be permitted to negotiate wages and certain work conditions but would be prohibited from participating in strikes. SB 5 also requires public employees to contribute a higher percentage of their health and pension benefits, reduces the number of vacation days and paid holidays for workers, and eliminates automatic pay increases, instead adopting a system of merit raises and performance pay.

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TN Senate: No Safety Penalty for Employers That Allow Guns at Work

March 01, 2011 0 COMMENTS

A bill rapidly making its way through the Tennessee Legislature would protect employers that opt not to restrict persons who are legally licensed to carry a handgun from bringing their weapons into the workplace.

On Monday, Senate Bill (SB) 519 passed almost unanimously (the lone dissenter was Democratic Senator Beverly Marrero of Memphis). The bill, the first measure introduced by Republican Senator Mike Bell of Riceville, states that an employer opting not to post notice that handguns are restricted on the workplace property has not created an occupational safety and health hazard to other employees on the premises.

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Preliminary FLSA Record-Keeping Regulations Expected in April

January 11, 2011 0 COMMENTS

An agency Web chat hosted by the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) on Thursday, January 6, provided expected dates for proposed regulations on record-keeping under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the “Right to Know Under the Fair Labor Standards Act” initiative is expected in April 2011.

The proposed rule, which will further the department’s Plan/Prevent/Protect and Openness and Transparency goals, will be drafted to provide workers with essential information about their employment status and earnings, including notification of status as an employee or independent contractor as well as notification of whether the employee is exempt or nonexempt. The rules also may require employers to provide a wage statement containing this or other information to employees each pay period.

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Six States Increase Indexed Minimum Wages for 2011

December 27, 2010 0 COMMENTS

As the new year approaches, a number of states will see index-driven increases to their minimum wage rates. Specifically, Arizona, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington will each add around 10 cents per hour to their existing wage rates, based on an increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) of a little more than one percent from August 2009 to August 2010. Two other states, Florida and Missouri, have chosen not to adjust their indexed wages.

In Arizona, the state minimum wage will increase from $7.25 to $7.35 per hour and will remain at that rate throughout the next year. Tipped employees’ hourly wages also will increase 10 cents, from $4.25 to $4.35. The new minimum wage must be posted in an area where employees can read the poster, such as the break room.

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DOL Announces ‘Bridge to Justice’ Attorney Referral System

December 14, 2010 0 COMMENTS

It may soon be easier for employees to find private legal representation after the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) declines to pursue their Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) or Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) claims. This is thanks to a new collaboration between the WHD and the American Bar Association (ABA) to establish an attorney referral system. Vice President Joe Biden, along with Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, announced this new “Bridge to Justice” program at a Middle Class Task Force event on November 19, 2010.

Starting December 13, 2010, when workers with FLSA or FMLA claims are told that the WHD is not going to pursue their complaints, they may be given a toll-free number to contact the new ABA-Approved Attorney Referral System. If they call this number, they will be referred to ABA-approved attorney referral service providers in their area.

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