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Report Highlights Effects of NLRB Rulings

Today’s Labor Updates:

Report Highlights Effects of NLRB Rulings

Tension in The UAW

As America’s Workforce Ages, Here’s Where the Jobs Will Be


Report Highlights Effects of NLRB Rulings

Expedited elections, new joint-employer definition and electronic signatures making biggest impact

Posted on: December 20, 2015


IRI Consultants and the American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration (ASHHRA) have released their 45th Semi-Annual Labor Activity in Health Care Report, which contains information to help healthcare organizations better understand where unions are focusing efforts and how to be prepared to address them.

“Employers need to take steps to prepare their organizations for a union organizing effort, not just react. With these new rules in place, there simply isn’t enough time to react unless the employer has taken steps to think through a comprehensive, detailed prevention strategy and counter campaign,” states Jim Trivisonno, president of IRI Consultants and co-author of the report. “When the union begins to solicit employees, executive management will look to human resources for leadership and guidance. Our advice: don’t be caught unprepared.”

Key points in the report include the following:

·        Since expedited elections commenced in April, there was a 9.6% increase over 2014 in the number of petitions filed; 365 elections were conducted in all industries under the new rules. The vast majority of elections are held within 24 days, beating the NLRB’s previous average timetable of 38 days.

In Browning-Ferris (Browning-Ferris Indus., 326 NLRB No. 186 (2015)), the Board imposed a new standard whereby “indirect control” – even potential control – can be sufficient for determining a joint employer relationship. The expanded scope of employment terms and conditions can be based on whether the contracting employer determines the number of workers to be supplied, maintains control over scheduling and overtime; and assigns work, decides how work will be conducted and determines performance.

Lincoln Lutheran of Racine (No. 30-CA-111099, 2015) now requires that employers continue to collect on behalf of the union even after a labor contract has expired if the contract includes dues check-off language.

·        The NLRB’s general counsel adopted a policy that permits employees to electronically authorize union representation. Some unions have been quick to adopt electronic signatures for collecting employee signatures on union authorization cards. Pursuant to the new policy, e-cards are valid if they include: the employee’s name, email address or social media account; phone number; authorization language to which the employee agreed; date; employer name; and employee signature.

·        An August 2015 Gallup poll found that Americans have a 58% approval of unions. Looking deeper into the data, young adults ages 18 to 24 are most supportive of unions (66% approval rating). Considering that young adults are among the highest users of social media, employees (through Purple Communications, Inc., 361 NLRB No. 126 (2014) are entitled to engage in protected, concerted activities using company email during non-work time and that the NLRB now accepts electronic signatures, a union campaign can remain “underground” or in “stealth mode” long before an employer learns of the campaign.


Tension In The UAW

You heard us say last month that the UAW’s success pushing through their collective bargaining agreements with the Big Three, eliminating the two-tier wage system, has some people expecting those same companies to move auto production to Mexico. Today, we’d like to dive a little further into what the reasoning is behind that.


Will Ford, Fiat Chrysler, and GM move all auto production to Mexico? No. However, just as all vehicles have a different tag price, so does their cost of labor. Cheaper cars are cheaper to manufacture. More expensive vehicles – trucks and SUVs – are, you guessed it, more expensive to manufacture. Truck and SUV manufacturing may be able to support these higher wages; however, production costs associated with, say, the Ford Focus can’t.

Charles Lane, writer for the Washington Post, speculates that we won’t see the actual effects of this decision until gas prices come back up. Increased fuel prices mean less interest in gas-guzzling vehicles (trucks, SUVs) and more interest in fuel-efficient cars (those that U.S. auto manufacturing companies will be forced to move south of the Rio Grande). The fact is, roughly 70 percent of the Big Three’s sales this year came from pickups and SUVs. What’s going to happen when gas prices catch back up and the Big Three’s most lucrative products hit a wall?

Lane suggests:

In a different world, one in which the Big Three were not legally bound to deal with the UAW at all U.S. plants, and thus did not face a binary choice between paying UAW wages or moving abroad, the carmakers would at least have had the option of hiring Americans to build smaller cars at some wage between union scale and Mexican rates: bad for the union, but not necessarily bad for American workers.

Elsewhere in Michigan, UAW members are not as happy with their union’s dealings. Nexteer workers are concerned UAW leaders are more interested in keeping face with the company than representing its employees. After 98 percent of Nexteer workers voted down the most recent deal brought to them by UAW, the union issued a strike and then called it off shortly thereafter, claiming a new tentative deal was on the table. Members haven’t seen any sign of a new deal.

In Wisconsin, Kohler employees have been involved in a nasty strike for the past five weeks. In week two, the UAW actually distributed a list of all Local 833 members who had crossed the picket line. The document said things like: “No longer our union brothers or sisters,” “A scab is a scab,” and “Don’t be afraid to point them out.” A tentative deal was announced on Tuesday.


December 8, 2015, 3:12 PM ET

As America’s Workforce Ages, Here’s Where the Jobs Will Be

By Jeffrey Sparshott

The U.S. labor force is expected to expand only slowly over the coming decade as the country ages and more Americans give up on holding a job, a potential drag on broader economic growth.

The economy is expected to generate 9.8 million new jobs, a 6.5% increase, from 2014 to 2024, the Labor Department said in new projections released Tuesday. While steady, that is a historically slow pace. By comparison, 10-year job creation averaged almost 14% during the 2001-07 expansion and close to 17% during the 1990s.

The slowdown highlights declining participation as baby boomers retire and younger Americans opt out of the workforce. Those two trends are expected to continue to push the labor-force participation rate lower, to 60.9% in 2024 from 62.9% in 2014, Labor estimates. If realized, that would be the lowest level since 1973, when Richard Nixon was president.

Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen at a congressional hearing last week held out hope the participation rate would hold near current levels as people came off the sidelines and into jobs.


“I don’t think we should expect to see labor-force participation move up a great deal over time,” she said, noting the aging population. “If it were simply stable over time, rather than on that declining trend, I think we would be absorbing people who were perhaps discouraged.”

The Labor Department estimates that the slowdown of labor-force growth will lead to economic growth around 2.2% annually over the decade. Gross domestic product, or GDP, is the broadest measure of economic output. It has been stuck around the 2% mark since the end of the latest recession. Growth above 3% had been common before the financial crisis struck.

(The demographic shifts extend well beyond the U.S. Next year, the combined working-age population of the world’s advanced economies will decline for the first time since 1950, according to United Nations projections, and by 2050 it will shrink 5%. The economic implications are vast.)

Much of the job growth in the coming decade will focus on services for the elderly. Health-care occupations and industries are expected to have the fastest employment growth and add the most jobs through 2024, Labor said.

Other industries with strong growth include construction, education, professional and business services, and mining, a category that includes oil and gas exploration and production.

While construction is projected to add 790,400 jobs by 2024, “even with these additional jobs, employment in the construction major sector is not projected to return to the 2006 peak,” the report said.

Employment in government, utilities, manufacturing, agriculture and information are expected to decline.

Other highlights of the report include:

  • The labor-force participation rate for 16- to 24-year-olds is expected to decrease to 49.7% in 2024 from 55% in 2014, while participation for those 65 and older is projected to increase to 21.7% from 18.6%.
  • White non-Hispanics will account for 59.6% of the civilian labor force in 2024, down from 64.6% in 2014.
  • Employment in home health-care services is expected to rise 4.8%, the fastest growth among industries.
  • Employment is expected to rise by 155,900 at car dealers but fall by 22,600 at vehicle parts manufacturers.



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