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OpenMarket: Labor and Employment

  • The Administration Is about to Upend American Business Practices

    August 13, 2015 7:45 AM

    It is probably the biggest change in American employment law since the National Labor Relations Act and its reform in the 1930s and ‘40s, but it could happen without the general public realizing it. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB, a product of that 1930s legislation) is expected to rule any day now in a case that will affect thousands of businesses. Firms are bracing themselves for the fall-out.

    The case in point relates to Browning-Ferris Industries (BFI), which owns a recycling plant that hires employees from a staffing agency. The local Teamsters Union petitioned the NLRB to designate BFI as a “joint employer” of the workers alongside the staffing agency. Designation as a joint employer would mean that BFI would be liable for the employees’ working conditions alongside the staffing agency. That means they could be sued over contractual matters and working conditions.

    If the NLRB rules in favor of the Teamsters, it would have far-ranging effects for companies of all shapes and sizes. The start-up that employs a receptionist from a staffing agency would find it now “jointly employed” that receptionist. Your office that has cleaning staff come in from a different firm at night could easily find it jointly employing those cleaners.

    The whole American business model of contracting out non-essential services would be overturned overnight. Firms that have spent decades flattening their structures would be forced to vertically integrate. One employment owner told The Hill, “Every company will have to reexamine their business relationships… I’d rather be responsible for my own company than someone else’s.”

  • CEI Joins Coalition to Support Right-to-Work Protections in Missouri

    July 31, 2015 8:33 AM

    No individual should be forced to financially support an organization with which they disagree or risk penalty. However, in Missouri and 24 other states, private-sector employers and unions may agree to a contract provision known as a union security clause, which compels workers to pay union dues or lose their job.

  • CEI Joins Coalition to Support Right-to-Work Protections in Missouri

    July 29, 2015 3:15 PM

    No individual should be forced to financially support an organization with which they disagree or risk penalty. However, in Missouri and 24 other states, private-sector employers and unions may agree to a contract provision known as a union security clause, which compels workers to pay union dues or lose their job.

    Currently, Missouri is considering becoming a right-to-work state, which would allow workers to opt-out of paying dues to a union they may not support without risk of termination.

    While worker freedom is the most important aspect of right-to-work protections, other benefits arise from such laws. In a recent study conducted by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, “Interstate Analysis of Right to Work Laws,” found that real personal income, over the duration the study analyzed (1977-2012), grew by 123 percent in the United States, but right-to-work states saw faster growth rate of 165 percent whereas non-right-to-work states only saw below average growth of 99 percent.

    With respect to Missouri, the study’s economic analysis showed that the Show Me State's estimated per capita income loss associated with not having a right-to-work law was $3,040.

    The Competitive Enterprise Institute along with 54 other organizations signed on to a coalition letter showing our support for right-to-work protections in Missouri.

  • Missouri Tax Dollars Finance Union Political Activity

    July 29, 2015 10:23 AM

    As Thomas Jefferson wrote, the constitution created a "wall of separation between church and state." An equally impenetrable wall of separation should be erected to create a wall of separation between public funds and private organizations.

  • Time to Enforce Texas Constitution’s Bar on Taxpayer Subsidies to Private Parties

    July 24, 2015 8:33 AM

    Use of taxpayer funds should be reserved for purely public purposes, not the private benefit of an individual, corporation, or association. Yet, Texas public employee unions, which are officially private organizations, receive a direct subsidy from local governments in the form of release time, a practice that allows public employees to conduct union business during working hours without loss of pay.

  • New York State Mulling Minimum Wage Increase

    July 23, 2015 3:47 PM

    A few weeks ago, the New York Times ran an article asking, “It’s Summer, but Where Are the Teenage Workers?” It’s a good question:

    Since 2000, the share of 16- to 19-year-olds who are working has plummeted by 40 percent, with fewer than a third of American teenagers in a job last summer. Their share of the overall work force has never been this low, and about 1.1 million of them would like a job but can’t find one, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    The next paragraph begins, “Experts are struggling to figure out exactly why.” Over the course of more than 1,300 words, the article doesn’t once mention a major culprit: the minimum wage.

    The article even features a chart showing a pronounced decrease in teen employment closely tracking the most recent federal minimum wage increase, which phased in from $5.15 to $7.25 from 2007 to 2009. The start of the increase and its impact on teen employment began before the financial crisis made job-hunting more difficult for everyone else, too. In recent years, some cities and states have begun raising their local minimum wages above the federal minimum, helping to keep teen employment at historically low levels.

    The Times should look into commissioning a follow-up story for next summer, because the paper is now reporting that New York State is considering implementing a $15 hourly minimum wage for fast food restaurant chains, which heavily employ teens. Increasingly, they are also “employing” automated kiosks.

  • EEOC Legislates New Federal Ban on Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation

    July 17, 2015 4:00 PM

    When Congress declines to pass a law that would expand an agency’s powers, the agency will sometimes respond by making up the law on its own. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently did this, by adding a new protected class to federal employment laws, at the expense of America’s employers.

    Congress has never enacted a ban on private-sector sexual orientation discrimination, so the subject is governed largely by state or local law (most, but far from all, of America’s workplaces are covered by a state law or municipal ordinance banning sexual orientation discrimination).

    To the EEOC’s displeasure, a bill to prohibit sexual orientation discrimination at the federal level, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, has repeatedly failed to pass Congress, in the face of questions about whether it is really needed (virtually all Fortune 500 companies have banned sexual orientation discrimination for years) or whether banning private-sector sexual orientation discrimination would cause problems for certain businesses (such as potentially triggering “hostile work environment” lawsuits against religious broadcasters, publications, or bookstores over workplace expression).

    So, the EEOC has decided to legislate a ban on sexual orientation discrimination on its own, declaring that all sexual orientation discrimination is a form of sex discrimination. “Allegations of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation necessarily state a claim of discrimination on the basis of sex,” the commission concluded in a decision dated July 15.

    Discrimination on the basis of sex is already banned by a 1964 law—Title VII of the Civil Rights Act—but while that law lists several types of discrimination that are forbidden—race, religion, sex, and national origin—it does not list sexual orientation. The EEOC concedes as much when it admitted that sexual orientation “is not” “explicitly listed in Title VII as a prohibited basis for employment actions.” Yet, in spite of this, the EEOC declares in its ruling that Title VII forbids sexual orientation discrimination, and that “allegations of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation state a claim of discrimination on the basis of sex.”

  • After 80 Years, Labor Law Needs Reform

    July 17, 2015 10:47 AM

    Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) recently penned an op-ed that celebrates the 80th anniversary of the National Labor Relations Act and praises the work of the National Labor Relations Board, which is charged with enforcing the Act. In same piece, she sharply criticizes attempts to reform the Act and Board.

  • Largest Union Decertification Effort in Railway Labor Act History Underway at Allegiant Air

    July 6, 2015 1:03 PM

    Last week, Allegiant Air flight attendants have filed with the National Mediation Board to decertify the Transport Workers Union. If successful, it would be largest decertification under the Railway Labor Act.

  • Texas: Austin and San Antonio Release Time Records

    July 6, 2015 10:47 AM

    The San Antonio Fire Department (SAFD) granted 4,238 release time hours in fiscal year 2012, at a cost to taxpayers $135,786.

    In FY 2013, release time amounted to 4,620 hours and cost $151,585.

    The San Antonio Police Department (SAPD) granted 7,941 hours, at a cost of $252,581.

    In FY 2013, release time hours amounted to 8,301, at a cost of $272,244.

    City of Austin records showed the Police Department (APD), Fire Department (AFD) and Emergency Medical Services (AEMS) were granted 10,857 hours of release time in FY 2012 and 16,963 in FY 2013, a cumulative total of 27,821.

    A total cost figure cannot be calculated because salaries were not provided for all APD, AFD, and AEMS employees. However, for the salaries made available, the cost of union release time to Austin taxpayers was $227,530 and $593,783 in FY 2012 and FY 2013.

    SAFD Union Leave for FY2012 FY2013 8-20-14lsf

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