U.S. Labor Law: Change is here… But is it here to stay?
Next month will mark one year since President Trump took office, Republicans took control of all three branches of government, and employers across the country breathed a collective sigh of relief. At last, it seemed the pro-union fog that had settled over America would be lifted and employers would be able to focus on growing their business (and jobs), once again. So why is it, as we approach the one year anniversary of such a massive shift in the regulatory and legislative environment, that most employers feel as though they’re living through the 10th year of the Obama Administration?
A look back
First, it’s important to keep timing in perspective. While it’s true the Obama Administration’s National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) managed to overturn a staggering 4,559 years of
established labor laws, it still took them eight years to do it. In fact, a look back at the first year of Obama’s presidency shows he was unable to deliver on any of his campaign promises to labor unions.
So, while we have yet to see many changes to the laws themselves, there has been major turnover among the people responsible for setting that process in motion.
While the changes span all branches of government and jurisdictions, what’s happening at the NLRB right now is something all employers should be paying attention to, in particular.
Things to know:
The confirmation of Bill Emanuel shifted the Board to a 3-2 Republican majority for the first time in 10 years.
However, last Saturday, Philip Miscimarra stepped down as Chair, leaving a tie Board. The White House is expected to nominate a replacement within the next three weeks, but the Board will likely remain a 2-2 political split through the Spring of 2018 given the slow Senate confirmation process.
What does this mean?
Traditionally, a departing Board member has the opportunity to have his/her colleagues address a number of decisions before he/she steps down. So, while we’ve seen a flurry of activity in the past week that seems to indicate a new day has arrived, the momentum is limited. After this weekend, the Board will most likely hold off on revisiting major, Obama-era decisions until a political (likely Republican) majority is restored, and will continue to make decisions on routine cases that do not raise policy considerations.
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