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NLRB closes out year with major pro-business changes

In the waning days of 2017, the National Labor Relations Board delivered some notable pro-business decisions. Earlier this month, the panel reversed three Obama-era rules on labor over which business owners had bridled. These included:

  • A retrenchment on how a joint-employer is defined
  • Easing the standard by which company policies might be deemed to violate worker collective bargaining rights

The board also rolled back a rule that made it easier for subsets of employees within a company to unionize. Employers had long complained that the so-called Specialty Healthcare rule established during the Obama administration set a standard for challenging such micro-bargaining units that was nearly impossible to meet.

How this happened

Analysts are in general agreement that these reversals are the direct result of the fact that for the first time in many years, the NLRB enjoyed a 3-2 Republican majority. All of the recent changes passed along the party line. Observers also note that the flurry of pro-business decisions came as Republican board chairman, Philip Miscimarra, marked the end of his term. He has not been replaced, and the board now features a 2-2 split among its members.

What it means

The decisions are widely hailed as positive by business advocates. One official of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says they reflect a restoration of "common sense and balance to a board that unfairly favored labor unions over the past eight years."

What the implications are for individual businesses in the U.S., and the Pittsburgh area specifically, is something that deserves closer examination. We plan to dive more deeply into each of the actions in subsequent posts.

While such reversals are undoubtedly welcome by many employers, to be sure of compliance with all employment law, a consultation with experienced attorneys such as those at Kisner Law Firm, LLC, is encouraged.

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