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‘Sensible Labor Reform: The Gift that Keeps on Giving’

The best way to spread Christmas cheer is talk about labor reform for all to hear. Workplaces across the country should be celebrating recent National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rulings that have been delivered just in time for the holidays, according to the Center for Union Facts.

The rulings opened up pathways for employees to hold employers accountable, established more democracy for the union election process, and reversed a ruling that required dues deductions even after a union contract expired. Below are quick explanations of each ruling.

For starters, the NLRB has moved to accept a settlement to resolve “dozens of cases” brought against McDonald’s Corp. Pending approval by a federal judge, the settlement will reinforce a definition of “joint employer” that holds franchisees primarily responsible for addressing worker concerns — instead of their parent corporations, which are typically uninvolved in the day-to-day tasks of franchisee employees. This not only protects against unwarranted litigation, it also ensures employees have a clear pathway for holding their employer accountable.

An Obama-era ruling that expedited the union election process has been rolled back by the NLRB, which included rigid time constraints and gave unions the advantage in the ruling’s pre-election hearing requirements.

The NLRB has also rolled back regulations that “sped up” the union election process. These “quickie” or “ambush” elections often give employers little time to respond to a call for a vote to unionize. The new rule “relaxes the timeline” of these elections, including giving both parties “two weeks’ notice of pre-election hearings” instead of the current eight days.

In addition, an Obama-era ruling pertaining to union dues deductions has also been upended. Employers can no longer check off union dues after the collective bargaining agreement containing the checkoff provision has expired.

The latest decision reverses this rule to follow a precedent that was set back in 1962. Now, employers won’t be forced to remit employees’ union dues for representation under an expired contract.

And, the Center for Union Facts continues, there may be a New Year’s bonus in play.

The Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed new disclosure requirements for public-sector unions. As of now, public unions are not required to file financial disclosures with the DOL — making it difficult for public union members to see exactly how their union is spending their dues.

This past summer, I was invited to meet with Department of Labor officials about this very requirement. There is a need for more government union transparency and accountability, and I am pleased efforts to establish responsible union democracy are underway.

The public comment period on the proposed union financial disclosure regulation runs through February 18, 2020. Anyone can submit a comment here

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