Wyatt Employment Law Report

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Major Unions Join the Chorus Seeking Changes to the Affordable Care Act

By Edwin S. Hopson

According to the Wall Street Journal, three major unions, Teamsters, UFCW and UNITE-HERE, have written a letter to Senate Majority, Leader Harry Reid, and Democratic Leader in the House, Nancy Pelosi, complaining:

“Since the ACA was enacted, we have been bringing our deep concerns to the Administration, seeking reasonable regulatory interpretations to the statute that would help prevent the destruction of non-profit health plans. As you both know first-hand, our persuasive arguments have been disregarded and met with a stone wall by the White House and the pertinent agencies. This is especially stinging because other stakeholders have repeatedly received successful interpretations for their respective grievances. Most disconcerting of course is last week’s huge accommodation for the employer community—extending the statutorily mandated ‘December 31, 2013’ deadline for the employer mandate and penalties.”

More, specifically, they complain that the ACA creates an incentive for employers to keep employee work hours below 30 per week in order to avoid any obligation to provide health care coverage.  Next, they point out that under Taft-Hartley plans such as many of their members have, they will not be eligible for all the benefits that other employees will receive who are covered under lesser plans.  Finally, employees covered by so-called Cadillac plans will be taxed to pay for subsidies other employees receive, according to the letter.

Whether this approach will produce results remains to be seen.

See: http://blogs.wsj.com/corporate-intelligence/2013/07/12/union-letter-obamacare-will-destroy-the-very-health-and-wellbeing-of-workers/

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House Committee Issues Subpoena To NLRB For Documents In Boeing Case

By Edwin S. Hopson

According to an article in the August 8, 2011 Wall Street Journal, the U.S. House Oversight Committee issued a subpoena on Sunday, August 7, 2011, to the National Labor Relations Board’s Acting General Counsel requiring that he turn over by noon on August 12, 2011, certain materials, including its emails, call logs and other communications from the start of 2009 relating to or referring to Boeing or the union that spurred the complaint the NLRB issued on April 20, 2011, against Boeing over it’s decision in 2009 to start a plant in South Carolina to build some of its new Dreamliner 787 planes.  The Machinist union had filed charges in 2009 over the decision to build some of the new planes at a new, non-union facility in South Caroline rather than in the State ofWashington where Dreamliners are also being built, claiming that the decision was based on anti-union animus.

 The Acting General Counsel of the NLRB,LafeSolomon, in a press release issued today, responded publicly to the subpoena, stating, “[t]o the best of my knowledge, this is the first time since 1940 that the National Labor Relations Board has been the subject of a Congressional subpoena. I am disappointed and surprised by this development. For months, my staff and I have diligently tried to satisfy the Committee’s desire for information while also preserving the integrity of our process and the rights of the parties in a case being actively litigated. I continue to believe that a solution is possible, and will work with the committee in the days and weeks ahead to find a reasonable and responsible balance.”

 According toSolomon, the Board has previously turned over more than 1000 pages of documents concerning its legal theories of the Boeing case, the motions made by all parties, court transcripts, and various rulings.  The Acting General Counsel also advised that the NLRB had had no communications with the White House regarding the merits of the Boeing case.  He also claimed in the NLRB’s press release that many more documents will be made available as the hearing on the NLRB complaint takes place, warning that “premature disclosure could interfered with the fairness of the trial and any possible settlement negotiations. In addition, we believe that the premature disclosure of any documents from the investigative file of an open case would establish precedent that could endanger future cases.”

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NLRB Takes on Boeing, Senate Republicans Take on NLRB

By Edwin S. Hopson

On April 20, 2011, in a press release, the NLRB’s Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon announced that the General Counsel had issued an unfair labor practice complaint against the Boeing Company alleging that it violated the National Labor Relations Act “by deciding to transfer a second production line to a non-union facility inSouth Carolinafor discriminatory reasons.”

 In 2007 Boeing announced that it planned to assemble seven 787 Dreamliner airplanes per month at its Puget Sound facility inWashingtonstate.  That facility has employees represented by the International Association of Machinists. Later, Boeing announced that it would create a second production line to assemble an additional three planes per month, and in October 2009, specified that the second line would be placed at its facility inSouth Carolinathat is non-union.  According to Solomon, in repeated statements to employees and the media, company executives cited the unionized employees’ past strike activity and the possibility of strikes occurring sometime in the future as the overriding factors in deciding to locate the second line in the non-union facility.  After completing its investigation,Solomon, in his press release, stated:

  “A worker’s right to strike is a fundamental right guaranteed by the National Labor Relations Act,”Mr.Solomonsaid. “We also recognize the rights of employers to make business decisions based on their economic interests, but they must do so within the law. I have worked with the parties to encourage settlement in the hope of avoiding costly litigation, and my door remains open to that possibility.” Continue reading

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House of Representatives Votes For Major Reduction in NLRB’s Budget

By Edwin S. Hopson

According to a press release issued February 18, 2011, by National Labor Relations Board Chairman Liebman and Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon, the U.S. House of Representatives was set to vote on a “Continuing Resolution” to fund the federal government through September 30, 2011, that includes a provision that would eliminate $50 million or 18% of the NLRB’s budget for the remainder of the fiscal year.

The Board in its statement points out that since most of its budget is spent on personnel and rent, such a reduction, concentrated in the last 7 months of the fiscal year, would mean that all of its 1,665 employees would face a furlough of some 55 work days or 3 months in total between now and September 30, 2011.  It estimated that such a result could create a backlog of some 18,000 cases.

The House did finally pass its budget reduction bill (H.R. 1) early on February 19, 2011, and then adjourned for the President’s Day Holiday week.  The Senate will now take up the measure starting February 28, 2011, with a possible government shutdown looming on March 4, 2011.

The February 18 NLRB press release was removed from the NLRB’s website. The Wall Street Journal also reported on this story.  See http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2011/02/17/nlrb-defunding-fails-but-agency-remains-gop-target/

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Wall Street Journal Reports Employers Having Difficulty Retaining Overqualified Workers

By Edwin S. Hopson

According to a November 15, 2010, article in The Wall Street Journal, employers who hired “top talent on the cheap in the depth of the recession should start worrying about defections….” 

Quoting Russ Riendeau, senior partner of Barrington, Ill., recruitment firm East Wing Group Inc., “[l]ast year, the focus was getting a job, period. Now those who had no choice before are regretting it.”  That’s because many employers that hired during the recession were able to obtain top talent at bargain prices.  Now that the economy is starting to turn around, “those overqualified hires become more frustrated—some of them are considering greener pastures.”

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