On “Wednesday the American Bar Association joined others in asking federal lawmakers to reconsider the [Labor Department’s] revised rule [requiring more extensive disclosure of the identities of outside professionals hired to resist unionization, as well as other clients of those professionals]. Although there are a number of ways in which the rule is ‘deeply flawed,’ the overarching concern of the ABA is the negative impact it will have on attorney-client privilege, says ABA President Paulette Brown in written testimony (PDF) submitted for a Wednesday hearing by a U.S. House subcommittee.” [ABA Journal, BNA, earlier]
Abood abides: a 4-4 Supreme Court split leaves in place earlier precedent providing that public employees can be required to pay union “agency fees” spent on activities of which they may not approve. Cato reactions: Trevor Burrus (“The lack of a blockbuster decision in Friedrichs is one of the most significant immediate consequences of Scalia’s death”), Jason Bedrick (“Not only do agency fees violate the First Amendment rights of workers by forcing them to financially support inherently political activities with which they may disagree (as my colleague Ilya Shapiro and Jayme Weber explained), but the unions often negotiate contracts that work against the best interests of the workers whose money they’re taking.”). Bonus: Charles C.W. Cooke (NEA president’s “Orwellian” words on case). Earlier here.
- Feared Philadelphia union boss launches program to use drones to surveill non-union worksites [William Bender, Philly.com (“got into a fistfight with a nonunion electrical contractor – and broke his nose – at a construction site at Third and Reed.”)]
- “We know where you live” continued: U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez’s “persuader rule” exposes lawyers and other professionals to intimidation, creates legal minefield for employers expressing opinion [The Hill, Jon Hyman, earlier]
- Richard Epstein on labor unions [Libertarianism.org podcast discussion with Aaron Ross Powell and Trevor Burrus]
- Actions protected as “concerted” by labor law include some taken by individual employee entirely alone, according to National Labor Relations Board, as it declares unlawful company policy against secretly taping conversations at the workplace [Jon Hyman, Whole Foods case]
- “Brace for more litigation based on feds’ new joint employment guidance, labor lawyers tell companies” [ABA Journal; Insurance Journal on Browning-Ferris; Daniel Schwartz; earlier] Applying NLRB joint employer notion to company like McDonald’s could blow up franchise business model, which some union advocates might not mind [Diana Furchtgott-Roth]
- Judge Merrick Garland shows great deference to NLRB, except in cases where it has ruled for an employer [Bill McMorris, Free Beacon]
After the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) noticed a rash of malware infections, it told employees to stop accessing personal webmail accounts from their government computers. Oh, no, said the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), which grieved the change as having been made without prior bargaining with the union. An arbitrator agreed, ruling that “federal law did not give federal agencies ‘sole and exclusive discretion’ to manage its information technology systems.” ICE appealed, but the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) “also sided with the union.” [Washington Times]
P.S. Reports of problems at the U.S. Embassy in London suggests that controls on employee use of at-work computers to send and receive private email might need some tightening up at the State Department too.
My colleague Ilya Shapiro thought things went well for the plaintiffs’ side in yesterday’s oral argument in the much-watched case over the First Amendment and teachers’ union dues, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. Others generally agree. Commentary before the argument from Jason Bedrick and Trevor Burrus, and afterward from Lyle Denniston (and more SCOTUSBlog).
On Jan. 11, the Supreme Court hears what may well be the most important case of the term. In Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, 10 teachers have challenged a state requirement that they support political causes with which they disagree and that hurt their students.
At issue is a kind of law that exists in 25 states which forces public-sector workers either to join a union or pay an amount that covers the cost of the union’s collective bargaining. For California teachers, that means annual dues of about $1,000 or “agency fees” of about two-thirds that amount.
— Ilya Shapiro and Jason Bedrick, Orange County Register. More: Shapiro and Jayme Weber, The Federalist; Richard Epstein, Robert Alt first, second (empirical evidence that unions can do well even when nonmembers not obliged to pay agency fees), third (stare decisis) posts, George Will. Earlier on Friedrichs and its predecessor cases Harris v. Quinn and Knox v. SEIU. A contrary view: New York Times editorial.
- “Outdoor guides to Obama: Take a hike” [Sean Higgins, Washington Examiner; Labor Department imposes higher federal-contractor minimum wage on outfitters operating in national parks, though they do not fit conventional definition of contractors]
- Los Angeles: “Gov’t Emails Cast Doubt On Berkeley Minimum Wage Study” [Connor Wolf, Daily Caller]
- Video: David Boaz (Cato) debates Chai Feldblum (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) on identity in the workplace [Atlantic “Ideas”]
- Oyster visas: when even Sen. Barbara Mikulski says labor regulations go too far, maybe they go too far [Rachel Weiner, Washington Post]
- Lawsuit: California shouldn’t be letting private employees work seven days in a row whether they want to or not [Trevor Burrus, Cato; Mendoza v. Nordstrom brief, Supreme Court of California]
- One hopes U.S. Senate will think carefully before ratifying international labor conventions [Richard Trumka and Craig Becker, Pacific Standard]
- “We’re going to overturn every rock in their lives to find out about their lifestyles”: union chief vows to go after lawmakers seeking to break county liquor monopoly in Montgomery County, Maryland [Bethesda Magazine]
- “NLRB: Unions have a right to know employees home phone numbers. If firms don’t have them, they must obtain them.” [@JamesBSherk summarizing Sean Higgins/Washington Examiner on Danbury Hospital case]
- Subpoenas get NLRB into redaction fight with McDonald’s [Sean Higgins/Examiner; more on joint-employer battle from International Franchise Association via Connor Wolf, Daily Caller]
- George Leef reviews Daniel DiSalvo’s book on public sector unionism, Government Against Itself [Forbes]
- “Seattle May Soon Force Uber And Lyft Drivers To Unionize” [Connor Wolf/Caller]
- Your periodic reminder that the “add union organizing to protected classes under civil rights law” formula is one of the worst ideas ever [Jon Hyman, Wolf/Caller on Workplace Action for a Growing Economy (WAGE) Act sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.)]
- Sen. Orrin Hatch: my proposed Employee Rights Act would “allow workers a greater role in how their union represents them” [Washington Times, background at Washington Examiner]
- Philadelphia union extortion and violence episode is a reminder it’s past time to revisit 1973 SCOTUS case of U.S. v. Enmons which tended to give a green light to such things [Mark Mix, Washington Times]
- “May employer fire employees for defending themselves (or others) against violent customers?” Dissenting Judge Lee has better view in Utah case [Eugene Volokh]
- “You have to ignore many variables to think women are paid less than men. California is happy to try.” [Sarah Ketterer, WSJ]
- U.S. Department of Labor has agreements with eleven countries to teach immigrant workers about U.S. labor laws “prior to and after their arrival” [Sean Higgins, Washington Examiner]
- “Why is Harrisburg paying a police officer who hasn’t shown up for work in 25 years?” [PennLive] Cf. Former Nashville cop says he “didn’t really want to” go on disability pension 27 years ago, “but it was either that or get fired” [Nashville City Paper back in 2010]
- “A White House forum for your whiny employees? Yup, this is a real thing, and you should pay attention.” [Jon Hyman]
- Minneapolis charity canvassers: “The Wobblies just won a big independent contractor case at the NLRB” [Politico “Morning Shift”, Jon Hyman]
- On widely reported decline in labor share of U.S. income, mind this little-reported asterisk [David Henderson, Timothy Taylor]