In May, President Biden signed an executive order creating a task force to promote labor organizing as part of a push to strengthen unions. According to the White House, the Order will direct the task force to promote new ways of using the federal government's policies to encourage workers to organize and successfully bargain with employers. It will be led by Vice President Harris and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh.
In a related matter, Sen. Joe Manchin (D. - W.Va.) announced he would vote for the PRO Act, probably the most pro-union law ever proposed. Only three Democrat senators have not joined the bill as sponsors, two Democrat senators from Arizona and Mark Warner from Virginia. However, as long as the filibuster rule remains in effect in the Senate, the bill has little chance in the Senate, although it has already passed in the House, supported by all the Democrats there.
In another related matter, Acting National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) General Counsel Peter Sung Ohr issued an expansive interpretation of worker's rights to band together to improve working conditions, promising vigorous prosecution of retaliation against concerted employee actions. The memo emphasizes that labor law can safeguard more than just group activity related to union organizing and discussions about "vital categories of workplace life," such as wages and hours.
Worker discussions about political and social justice or workplace safety and health may also receive legal protections. He stated: "Going forward, employee activity regarding a variety of societal issues will be reviewed to determine if those actions constitute mutual aid or protection under Section 7 of the Act." Ohr highlighted NLRB precedent showing what type of conduct the Board considers to be concerted, including conversations that involve only a speaker and a listener. Worker talks about certain core workplace issues can make group discussions "inherently concerted" he said.
This is part of our June 2021 Newsletter.
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