Friday, October 7, 2011

Ever-changing labor law subject of Chamber seminar

Former United States Air Force F-16 instructor pilot and labor law attorney Steve Wheeless of Steptoe and Johnson LLP joined us at the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry today to discuss recent regulatory and rule changes at the NLRB and DOL. 

A wide range of professionals attended the discussion, including attorneys, government affairs and human resource professionals, as well as representatives from non-profit organizations and hospitals. 

A few highlights of the discussion:

The NLRB has adopted a new approach in defining what constitutes an appropriate bargaining unit in health care facilities that has now extended to include all employers. Under this new standard, an employer is required to prove that employees excluded from a proposed unit “share an overwhelming community of interest” with the employees in the proposed unit in order to prevent micro-fracturing within an organization. This new standard makes an organization very susceptible to unionization, and it is critical for employers to not only identify those groups of employees vulnerable to unions, but to also educate themselves and all employees about this change so that they are prepared to respond to a union solicitation.

The second major change from the NLRB and DOL making it easier for unions to unionize an organization is expediting the representation election process. As the name suggests, the change will significantly condense the time in which employers can respond to a union—  from 21 days to 7 days— and also condense the time for employers to inform their employees about the election. This is another change in which it is critical for employers to be knowledgeable of the representation election timeline should they receive a petition and decide to contest an election.

Steve’s message to the audience was clear: labor law is constantly changing – stay informed. Prepare yourself and your organization for a union solicitation, even if you think it impossible.

Many thanks to Steve for his informative and engaging discussion.

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