After a patriotic, relaxing, and at times, moving mid-summer Holiday, many of us in the United States got back to work this week. The Way asks, “Is it too early to start thinking about Labor Day?” We take a look at a host of labor-related activities making waves this week.
The National Labor Relations Board made it easier for employers to oust a union if a majority of workers no longer support that union. The NLRB ruled that an employer that makes an “anticipatory withdrawal of a union” will not be exposed to an unfair labor practice charge if the union lacked majority support when the contract ended. In a second, similar ruling, the NLRB afforded employers greater control over public areas (e.g., cafeterias or restaurants) located on their private property. After 38 years of precedent, employers can now generally prohibit non-employee union representatives from engaging in organizational activity in their public spaces.
And finally this week, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)announced a stakeholder meeting for its Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH). The session will take place on July 17 and July 18 in Washington, D.C. The agenda includes updates from OSHA directors and interactive discussions on proposals related to “confined space” welding. The meetings will also clarify the requirements for the fitness of personal protective equipment in the construction industry. The meetings are open to the public and we'll report back on the outcomes of these working sessions.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D-NJ) signed into law a measure that creates a rebuttable presumption for first responders suffering from diseases that have been known to be caused by chemicals, pathogens, and other hazardous materials. In a move supportive of 9/11 first responders, the new Garden State law addresses, “risks of exposure to carcinogens, communicable diseases, radiation and related hazards to health, already especially high for fire, police, emergency, medical and other public safety workers, and is further increased by the duties of such workers in response to catastrophic emergencies, epidemics, and terrorist attacks.” The measure is effective immediately.
The Supreme Court of Colorado ruled that the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on the government's imposition of “excessive fines” applies to fines levied on corporations by the Division of Workers' Compensation (DWC). The case at bar involved fines levied against an employer for failing to secure workers' compensation coverage. The justices focused on the proportionality of each daily fine, and not the aggregate fine. The court sought to avoid a rule that would “incentivize employers to forego workers' compensation coverage for as long as possible,” only to argue that total fine was excessive.
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