Q3 2017

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56 CINEMONTAGE / Q3 2017 compiled by Jeff Burman P resident Donald Trump is taking major steps to change the direction of federal labor policy, positioning the National Labor Relations Board to overturn several high-profile Obama-era labor decisions, writes Noam Scheiber in The New York Times. By working toward filling two vacant seats and swinging the board from Democratic to Republican control, Trump could reverse gains made by former President Barack Obama. What's at stake? • A ruling that increased the likelihood companies can be held responsible for labor violations committed by contractors and franchisees. This is a ruling that offered help to fast food workers. • A ruling that made it easier for relatively small groups of workers within a company to form a union. This is a ruling that offered help to nursing home workers, among others. • A ruling that granted graduate students at private universities a federally protected right to unionize. • Rules enacted by the Obama-era NLRB allowing union elections to proceed on a quicker timetable. Many business groups disparagingly refer to the new approach as "ambush" rules, complaining that employers no longer have sufficient time to "make the case" to workers against unionizing. Unions see these campaigns as pressure tactics. The White House announced the nomination of Marvin Kaplan, a lawyer serving on a federal health and safety commission, to one of two vacant seats on the NLRB, which currently has a two-to-one Democratic majority. Whatever Kaplan's appetite for political combat, his record appears to place him in the mainstream of Republican labor policy. If Trump's second board nominee fits the same profile — and the management-side lawyer said to be in line for the position, William Emanuel, appears to do so — the two would almost certainly join with the board's current Republican member, Philip Miscimarra, to undo crucial portions of the labor board's legacy from the Obama era. Arguably the most prominent among them is Browning-Ferris, the 2015 ruling broadening the board's so-called joint employer doctrine. Under this approach, a company can be considered an employer of a worker employed by another firm, like a contractor or franchisee, even if the original company does not directly control working conditions there. Many of the workers benefitting from this ruling are fast food workers. Government lawyers have also told a federal appeals court that the Labor Department plans to revise its pending Obama-era overtime rule, write Chris Opher and Ben Penn for Bloomberg News. They asked the court to affirm the DOL's right to use higher salary levels to determine eligibility for time-and-a-half pay in the future. BILL MINIMIZES ARBITRARY WORK SCHEDULES While the Trump administration in Washington appears to be finding some success in using its executive branch power to undo many of the efforts of the previous administration to protect hourly paid employees, writes Lonnie Golden for The Economic Policy Institute, a more worker-friendly, forward-looking group in the US Congress has pushed back by offering an alternative approach — by re-introducing the Schedules That Work Act, previously LABOR MAT TERS Trump Takes Aim at Obama Labor Legacy

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