In effect since July 1, 2020, the United-States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (“USMCA”) replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”).  Although the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic largely overshadowed the effective date of this
Continue Reading New Labor Obligations Contained In USMCA Present Risks for Covered Employers

Does an employer automatically engage in unlawful discrimination when it grants an improved benefit to its non-union employees but withholds the improvement from its union employees who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement? In a recent decision, Merck, Sharp & Dohme Corp, 367 NLRB No. 122, issued on May 7, 2019, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) said No. This is an important decision because it clearly delineates the difference between mere disparate treatment (which is lawful) and actionable discrimination (unlawful) and brings clarity to an employer’s duty to bargain over changing working conditions during the term of a collective bargaining agreement (CBA).
Continue Reading It’s OK to Be Different- NLRB Rules That Union Represented Employees Are Not Entitled to Midterm Bargaining Over Same Paid Holiday Granted to Non-Represented Employees

Amid the confusion and tensions of the WGA-ATA dispute over packaging fees and agency ties to affiliated production entities, more than 7,000 termination letters have been sent out to non-franchised agents who once represented WGA members.[1] The mass firing was “mandatory rather than optional”[2] and 92% of writers who voted in favor of the Code of Conduct acted in concert as insisted by the Guild. As WGA West president David A. Goodman said, “when the guild takes action, we do so as a group… we don’t ask an individual member to take a stand. We do it together…”

The WGA has sent a strong message to the ATA through the coordinated firing, but there remains uncertainty as to how the average writer will procure employment when he or she no longer has ccess to the only person (other than the writer him/herself) that is legally entitled to procure employment—a licensed talent agent.[3]
Continue Reading “Financial Core” – A Dissident Writer’s Recourse

Last August, we wrote about a Chicago ordinance requiring hotel employers to, among other things, equip hotel employees assigned to work in guestrooms or restrooms with portable emergency contact devices. The emergency contact devices, referred to as “panic buttons,” may be used to summon help if the employee reasonably believes that an ongoing crime, sexual harassment, sexual assault or other emergency is occurring in the employee’s presence. The Chicago ordinance took effect July 1, 2018.
Continue Reading “Panic Button” Laws Make Their Way Across The U.S.

The ongoing dispute between the Writers’ Guild of America (“WGA”) and the Association of Talent Agencies (“ATA”) took a new turn recently when the WGA announced that it would use the authority granted to it under the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) to “preempt” California state law and effectively “deputize” attorneys and managers to perform acts that only licensed talent agencies can provide under California state law. While an interesting and novel approach, the underpinnings of the argument appear to be flawed and could place managers and lawyers who attempt to provide licensable talent agency services in danger—to such an extent that lawyers (in particular) may find their “deputized” activities to be outside of the coverage of their malpractice insurance policies[1].
Continue Reading Deputy Lawyer; WGA Tries Preemption Route in ATA Dispute

On June 27, 2018, the United States Supreme Court ruled that mandated payment of so-called “agency fees” by non-union members in the public sector violated First Amendment principles protecting freedom of speech and association. In Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31, No. 16-1466, 2018 WL 3129785 (June 27, 2018) a 5-4 majority of the Court rejected the holding of the 1977 case Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, 431 U.S. 209 (1977), which permitted such fees, as a wrongly-decided imposition on individual constitutional rights. This landmark decision presents major implications for public-sector union funding in the future, and is notable for all employers with unionized workforces.
Continue Reading Supreme Court Deems Public-Sector Union Agency Fees Unconstitutional

The NLRB announced yesterday, a Request for Information (“RFI”) on the Board’s 2014 “Quickie Election” representation regulations (at 29 CFR parts 101 and 102). The RFI seeks input on the amendments to representation case procedures, which drastically changed the process for NLRB conducted elections in which employees vote on whether they want to be represented by a union. The RFI was approved by Board Chairman Philip A. Miscimarra and Board Members Marvin E. Kaplan and William J. Emanuel. Board Members Mark Gaston Pearce and Lauren McFerran dissented.
Continue Reading New Labor Board May Kill “Quickie Election” Rule; Requests Public RFI

On November 8, 2017, Peter B. Robb was sworn in as the General Counsel (GC) of the NLRB for a four year term. Robb succeeds Richard Griffin, who has been the GC since November 2013. Robb wasted no time in taking initial steps to undo many of the NLRB’s more controversial recent decisions. On December 1, 2017, Robb issued Memorandum 18-02 directing the NLRB’s regional offices on which types of charges should be submitted to his Division of Advice and rescinding policy memoranda issued by the prior GCs.
Continue Reading New Labor Board GC Signals Overturning Obama-Era Rulings, But Anticipated Vacancies and Recusals Create Uncertainty

Senate Republicans recently confirmed William Emanuel, the second Trump nominee to the five-member National Labor Relations Board (the “Board”), giving the Board a Republican majority for the first time since 2007. Mr. Emanuel’s confirmation follows the September 25, 2017 appointment of Peter Robb, a management-side labor and employment lawyer, as General Counsel of the Board. Each of President Trump’s recent appointments are expected to advance the president’s pro-business and pro-employer policies. In particular, Mr. Robb’s replacement of the current General Counsel, Richard Griffin, is a crucial step towards upending the Board’s recent anti-employer rulings.
Continue Reading Labor Relations Update: New NLRB General Counsel Nominee Poised to Undo Obama-Era Precedents

On May 23, the NLRB issued Road Sprinkler Fitters Local Union 669, finding that U.A. Local 669 (Union) violated the NLRA when it sought to apply and enforce facially
Continue Reading NLRB Orders Union To Drop Unlawful Grievance, to Dismiss Suit Seeking to Compel Neutral Employers to Arbitrate Grievance and to Pay The Employers’ Legal Fees and Defense Costs

On May 15, 2017, the Seventh Circuit issued its ruling in Vega v. New Forest Home Cemetery, LLC, finding that an employee was not barred from bringing a Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) claim in a judicial forum, despite his failure to exhaust the grievance procedure in the applicable collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”).
Continue Reading 7th Circuit Issues Ruling That Waiver of Statutory Rights under FLSA in Collective Bargaining Agreement Must Be Clear and Unmistakable