President Joe Biden’s Labor Law Game Changers
Ag Clients BEWARE…That while National Labor Policy really impacts only secondary commercial operations (e.g. pack houses, processing, cooling, and distribution), the broad-sweeping game changers below are extremely impactful not only to those operations but also affect California Ag labor policy by setting the example on the issues, such as the “Access Rule” and “Card Check.”
Biden Fires NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb
The period of “unprecedented” times continues as President Joe Biden becomes the first president to fire a sitting National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) general counsel. The removal of Peter Robb, who was appointed by Trump to a four-year term in November 2017, significantly shapes labor law as the general counsel position has sweeping authority to determine which types of cases the agency pursues.
In addition to a new general counsel, the development of a new NLRB administration most likely will lead to future reversals of landmark NLRB decisions. Currently, the five members of the National Labor Relations Board include three Republicans and one Democrat with one vacant seat. Republican member William Emmanuel’s term expires on August 27, 2021, which creates an opportunity for a Democratic majority to greatly shift the labor movement.
Union-backed Rosa DeLauro Sits as House Committee Chair on Appropriations
On January 3, 2021, the 117th Congressional session began with Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro leading as Chair of the House Committee on Appropriations, whose leadership could be a win for unions in the long term and put employers on notice to expect more robust action from the National Labor Relations Board and other regulatory agencies.
The House Committee on Appropriations controls the discretionary spending portion of the budget, which totals $1.3 trillion dollars every year but is projected to rise in the next fiscal year by $300 billion dollars due to COVID-19. DeLauro was an original co-sponsor of the PRO Act and her position as Chair helps push for increased funding at key agencies like the NLRB, which would bolster its resources and its ability to enforce the National Labor Relations Act.
Possible Enactment of the Protecting the Right to Organize Act “PRO Act”
President Biden will push to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which was passed in the House in February of 2020. The PRO Act brings many changes, and most notably amends the country’s longstanding labor laws by replacing the secret ballot method with “card check” organizing. This means that workers merely need to need to recruit a majority of individuals to sign authorization cards allowing a union to represent them.
As the PRO Act is written, it allows a union to use authorization cards to get recognized and certified without holding an election in situations where the employers have been found to have interfered with an election. President Joe Biden will likely propose that a card check be used even in the absence of such interference and to replace secret ballot elections in all situations.
The PRO Act also amends the National Labor Relations Act to:
- Ban employers from hiring permanent strike replacements during economic strikes impose new penalties for employers for failure to post notices of employees' labor rights and protections;
- Ban all right-to-work laws;
- Reintroduce the “Persuader Rule,” which requires an employer to report if it hires a lawyer or consultant to help with union organizing;
- Require employers to post and maintain a notice informing employees of their rights under the NLRA, which be posted at all times and in conspicuous places where notices are customarily posted both physically and electronically;
- Require that the parties meet and commence bargaining within ten (10) days after receiving a written request for collectively bargaining;
- Prohibit an employer from holding mandatory meeting with their employees during a union campaign; and
- Allow individuals and unions to sue employers in federal court for NLRA violations
COUNSEL TO MANAGEMENT
With the rapid changes to labor law and policy, we know one message is certain - there is MORE TO COME. Our office will continue to monitor the developing changes that come with every new presidential administration. If you have questions about the potential impact of the latest updates, contact the experts at The Saqui Law Group.
ALERT: CDC Releases COVID-19 Vaccine Communication Toolkit for Essential Workers
By: Rebecca R. Schach
This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a COVID-19 Vaccine Communication Toolkit designed for employers of essential workers, including food and agriculture. The purpose of the toolkit is to educate employees about COVID-19 vaccines, raise awareness about the benefits of vaccination, and address common questions and concerns. The toolkit includes Frequently Asked Questions for employers and employees, COVID-19 vaccine fact sheet in 9 languages, and posters/flyers to encourage COVID-19 vaccination. The full CDC COVID-19 Vaccine Communication Toolkit is here.
COUNSEL TO MANAGEMENT:
Just as with COVID-19 testing, vaccinations will raise new questions and challenges for California employers. We will continue to monitor state and federal agencies for guidance and regulations on vaccinations as they become available. If your Company is considering a vaccination policy, contact the experts at The Saqui Law Group.