Tag: NLRA

Congrats to WMC for Ruling to Affirm Employer Speech

Congratulations to the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) for the group’s successful challenge to a state law that attempted to restrict employers’ rights to communicate with their employees during union organizing campaigns. From WMC’s “Insight: Union Organizing Statute Found Unconstitutional“:

Earlier this year, Governor Jim Doyle signed Act 290, making Wisconsin the second state in the nation to attempt to strip employers of their right to hold “captive-audience” talks with their workforce. Act 290 amended the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act (WFEA) to prohibit employers from disciplining employees who refuse to attend “employer-sponsored meetings” or “participate in any communication with the employer or agent, representative, or designee of the employer” where the “primary purpose” of the meeting or communication is to express the employer’s “opinion” about an employee’s decision to join or support a union….

WMC and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Association of Commerce had urged Gov. Doyle to veto the bill and thus subsequently filed suit, challenging the state law as a violation of the National Labor Relations Act. More from WMC:

The suit asserted that the WFEA amendments were preempted by the NLRA and violated the free speech rights Wisconsin employers enjoy under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. (continue reading…)

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Oregon’s Ministry of Truth Passes ‘Worker Freedom’ Law

Or is it Ministry of Plenty?

From Olympia Business Watch, the blog of the Association of Washington Business, “Oregon becomes first state to pass union ‘gag rule’ bill“:

Oregon became the first state in the nation to pass the national AFL-CIO’s model “Worker Freedom Act,” the gag rule bill known in Washington the last several sessions as the “Worker Privacy Act.”  It purports to rebalance federal labor law in unions’ favor by restricting employers’ ability to effectively communicate with employees about labor issues during organizing and bargaining campaigns.  The Oregonian reports here, with statehouse coverage here….[snip]

If the measure is signed, expect a court fight.  One of the reasons it took national unions so long to find a state willing to pass the bill is its extremely dubious legality. Especially in light of the U.S. Supreme Court broadly striking down a similar California measure aimed at employer speech about unions, these proposals have been viewed as attempting to take away rights that employers clearly enjoy under federal labor law — something states are pre-empted from doing.

The bill is SB 519. It’s the latest in a series of anti-jobs, anti-employer measures the state’s leaders have embraced. As the Albany Democrat-Herald’s editor describes it:

The job situation in Oregon keeps going downhill, and the majority in the legislature keeps making things worse. How? By making life tougher for employers and refusing to encourage things that might generate more private-sector jobs, such as the BLM timber management plan.

Also, among other things, it has voted to raise taxes and fees, and it is poised to approve a field burning ban that will harm the grass-seed segment of Oregon agriculture.

In order to expand the state health service, the legislature will tax providers in a way that increases costs for all. It also has voted to punish employers if they insist on communicating with workers on labor issues.

Oregon now has the highest increase since last year in the welfare case load, the Wall Street Journal reports. That distinction goes along with Oregon’s second place, behind Michigan, in the rate of unemployment.

Just wondering if this is the change that Oregon voters last fall had in mind. (hh)

Oregon’s unemployment rate in May was 12.4 percent, the highest unemployment level in the state since November 1982. (November, 1982? Why, that was the month your correspondent moved out of Oregon to look for a job.)

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President Obama and Organized Labor, III

From the President’s statement today:

So I’m going to be signing three executive orders designed to ensure that federal contracts serve taxpayers efficiently and effectively.  One of these orders is going to prevent taxpayer dollars from going to reimburse federal contractors who spend money trying to influence the formation of unions.  We will also require that federal contractors inform their employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act.  Federal labor laws encourage collective bargaining, and employees should know their rights to avoid disruption of federal contracts.

And I’m issuing an order so that qualified employees will be able to keep their jobs even when a contract changes hands.  We shouldn’t deprive the government of these workers who have so much experience in making government work.

Thus, NOT a reversal of the four executive orders from President Bush circa February 2001. No mention of Project Labor Agreements. And, as we read it,  the reference to a measure to “prevent dollars from going to reimburse federal contractors who spend money trying to influence the formation of unions,” engages the issues that came up in “Chamber of Commerce of the United States v. Lockyer.” A California law sought to bar a employer who received state grants or funds from using that money to take a position in union organizing. The 9th Circuit upheld the law, but federal labor law supersede state law, and the Supreme Court reversed and remanded. 

It would really help if the executive orders were online. News accounts like this piece from The New York Times are too skimpy, and obviously our speculation about substance turned out to be wrong.

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