e-Team Report, Sept. 8, 2015

Labor Activism Pays Off: NLRB on a Roll for Workers

September 8, 2015

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The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has recently issued a string of positive rulings that will strengthen employee protections and unions' abilities to advocate for workers.

Highlighting the NLRB’s recent rulings, Politico reported:

Using a thin partisan majority on the National Labor Relations Board, Obama’s Democratic appointees have issued a string of rulings that favor unions — including six pro-labor decisions in just the past few days. On Thursday, the NLRB issued a momentous 3-2 ruling along party lines that may make it easier for McDonald’s to unionize, reversing a 34-year precedent. The board subsequently issued five additional decisions ruling for unions on less-momentous matters ranging from whether a worker may demand that a union rep be present during a drug test (yes) to whether an employer may exclude union reps from voluntary peer review committees (no). Two of these new rulings were made public Monday, concluding a flurry of NLRB votes from a board that observers say is more pro-union than any since the early 1980s.

The NLRB has moved to greatly limit the amount of time management can stall before employees gain their vote to organize after filing for a union election. Further, the NLRB is working to eliminate "mandatory arbitration" in worker contracts that sign away employees' rights to sue their bosses.

It’s important to remember that just two short years ago, the National Labor Relations Board was on the brink of dysfunction. Due to filibusters by Senate Republicans of several Obama nominees, the NLRB was on a course to lose its quorum. If it lost its quorum, the agency tasked with protecting America’s workers from unfair labor practices would lose all ability to operate. The APWU and the labor movement at large put out the call to end the obstructionism and confirm President Obama’s NLRB nominees. APWU activists answered that call to action and reached out to Senate offices – insisting senators stop abusing the filibuster that directly threatened workers’ protections. With the support and activism of the labor movement then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) threatened in July 2013 to force the NLRB nominees through the Senate. To do so, he would invoke the “nuclear option” and eliminate the 60-vote threshold for confirmation of certain nominees. With a compromised reached shortly thereafter, Reid withdrew the nuclear threat and GOP senators allowed votes to fill NLRB vacancies.

Today, we’re seeing the positive results of labor activism. The recent resurgence of the NLRB as a moreeffective advocate for working Americans can be traced back to the labor movement coming together to fight for our rights. At a time when we face many challenges, it’s important we reflect on our victories and stay mindful of what our collective action can accomplish.

To read more about the recent pro-labor NLRB rulings, please click here.

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