Labor Relations Round-Up

  • October 24, 2018
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Law360 staff authorizes strike

The staff of the subscription-based legal news service Law360 Tuesday authorized a strike against management over wages, healthcare and retirement benefits.

In a written statement, the NewsGuild of New York said the vote came “after two years at the bargaining table and no contract to show for it.”

“The vote allows union leaders at the LexisNexis-owned legal news site to call for a strike if management does not promptly make significant movement in negotiations toward finalizing a strong, first contract,” the union said.

Since the union was formed in 2016, it’s persuaded management to eliminate story quotas and non-compete agreements. It’s also negotiated layoff protections, regulation of subcontracting, overtime pay and bereavement leave.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce today praised the Labor Department’s proposal to allow small businesses to band together to offer retirement savings plans for employees.

Aliya Wong, the Chamber’s director of retirement policy, said in a written statement that the proposal would “expand retirement savings opportunities for millions of small business employees.”

The proposal follows through on an executive order that President Donald Trump signed in August, allowing businesses in a variety of industries to pool resources in a way that current regulations do not permit. DOL wrote a similar rule for health plans this year that was praised by the Chamber.

Both actions have helped soften sometimes icy relations between the Trump administration and the business lobby, which find themselves at odds over immigration and trade.

NLRB refuses to reconsider camera phones decision, again

The National Labor Relations Board on Tuesday declined, for the second time, to reconsider a 2017 decision that made it permissible for employers to restrict the use of camera phones at work.

In a brief opinion, the NLRB said that a local chapter of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades “has not demonstrated extraordinary circumstances warranting reconsideration.” The union in August had asked the NLRB to reconsider its decision, which concerned the aerospace giant Boeing. The union, in its filing, pointed to alleged ethics conflicts with Chairman John Ring and member William Emanuel.

In an Aug. 14 petition, the union complained that Ring’s and Emanuel’s former law firms — Morgan Lewis and Littler Mendelson, respectively — had separately represented Boeing and Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino. The latter company was the subject of a 2015 decision in which the NLRB, then controlled by Democrats, found that camera-phone restrictions violated employees’ collective bargaining rights.

But last year, the Republican-controlled board issued a decision in the Boeing case that was more favorable to employers. In that decision, the NLRB found that Boeing’s restriction of camera phones was unrelated to employees’ collective bargaining.

The painters’ union, in response, asked that Ring and Emanuel — as well as Republican member Marvin Kaplan — recuse themselves from the case. But the three members denied the request, concluding that the union didn’t have standing to intervene.

“How would anyone in his or her right mind want to have a case decided by a judge [whose] firm (albeit a large firm) had represented the very client (in 3 this case, Boeing and Rio-All Suites’ parent corporations) in other litigation[?],” the painters’ union wrote in its second motion for reconsideration. “No one would consider this not to ’cause a reasonable person with knowledge of the relevant facts to question his impartiality.'”

“No one could believe that an adjudicator or Board member could fairly decide a case involving his firm’s former and current client,” the union added.

The NLRB did not agree, dismissing the complaint without additional explanation.