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Significant Labor and Employment Issues in FY 2016 Labor-HHS-Ed Appropriations Bill

Stamped June 15, 2015 (5:55PM), the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee Department on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies has produced a draft bill for Fiscal Year 2016 (FY16).

Virtually every year this Labor-HHS-Ed bill faces significant challenges for individual enactment. However, every year the bill is enacted, albeit normally as part of a larger appropriations act.

In every case, the initial draft of the bill sets the tone for the eventual enactment and frames the issues for debate.

This initial FY16 draft contains the following significant verbatim provisions for increasing employment, bettering incentives for workers, reducing deadweight loss to the economy, augmenting workers’ income growth, and improving worker freedom:

  1. SEC. 111. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to implement, administer, or enforce the Establishing a Minimum Wage for Contractors regulation published by the Department of Labor in the Federal Register on October 7, 2014 (79 Fed. Reg. 60634 et seq.), with respect to federal contracts, permits, or other contract-like instruments entered into with the Federal Government in connection with federal property or lands, related to offering seasonal recreational services or seasonal recreation equipment rental for the general public.
  2. SEC. 112. None of the funds made available by this Act for ‘‘Department of Labor—Departmental Management’’ may be used to establish the proposed Office of Labor Compliance.
  3. SEC. 113. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to finalize, implement, administer, or enforce the proposed Definition of the Term ‘‘Fiduciary’’; Conflict of Interest Rule—Retirement Investment Advice regulation published by the Department of Labor in the Federal Register on April 20, 2015 (80 Fed. Reg. 21928 et seq.).
  4. SEC. 114. An Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspector shall not administer, enforce, or otherwise implement any policy or interpretation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that allows an individual affiliated with a third party organization to accompany such OSHA inspector on a walkaround inspection except in accordance with applicable laws and regulations and by a vote of approval of the employees of an affected worksite.
  5. SEC. 406. None of the funds provided by this Act or previous Acts making appropriations for the National Labor Relations Board may be used to issue any new administrative directive or regulation that would provide employees any means of voting through any electronic means in an election to determine a representative for the purposes of collective bargaining.
  6. SEC. 407. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to implement or enforce any rule amending parts 101, 102, and 103 of title 29, Code of Federal Regulations (relating to the filing and processing of petitions pursuant to the representation of employees for the purposes of collective bargaining with their employer), including the final rule published by the National Labor Relations Board in the Federal Register on December 15, 2 2014 (79 Fed. Reg. 74308).
  7. SEC. 408. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to investigate, issue, enforce or litigate any administrative directive, regulation, representation issue or unfair labor practice proceeding or any other administrative complaint, charge, claim or proceeding that would change the interpretation or application of a standard to determine whether entities are ‘‘joint employers’’ in effect as of January 1, 2014.
  8. SEC. 409. (a) None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to enforce the National Labor Relations Act (29 U.S.C. 152) against any Indian tribe, including any enterprise or institution owned and operated by an Indian tribe and located on its Indian lands. (b) For purposes of this section— (1) the term ‘‘Indian tribe’’ means any Indian tribe, band, nation, pueblo, Native Alaskan group, or other organized group or community which is recognized as eligible for the special programs and services provided by the United States to Indians because of their status as Indians; (2) the term ‘‘Indian’’ means any individual who is a member of an Indian tribe; and (3) the term ‘‘Indian lands’ ’’ means— (A) all lands within the limits of any Indian reservation; (B) any lands title to which is either held in trust by the United States for the benefit of any Indian tribe or individual or held by any Indian tribe or individual subject to restriction by the United States against alienation; and (C) any lands in the State of Oklahoma that are within the boundaries of a former reservation (as defined by the Secretary of the Interior) of a federally recognized Indian tribe.

The eight labor and employment issues presented here have been discussed by Congress and comprise the battleground for the upcoming fiscal year. Both the Department of Labor and the National Labor Relations Board are involved in these issues.

These provisions are to be applauded. Furthermore, the committee is to be congratulated for tackling these important issues, which are important enough to the American people for the subcommittee to take on the opposition these provisions will inevitably bring.