Workers Score NLRB Win

From the USW

Workers scored a major win earlier this month when a federal court upheld an Obama-era National Labor Review Board (NLRB) ruling finding that corporations could be held responsible for issues like wage discrimination or illegal job termination, even if the employees were subcontractors or working at a franchised company.

The D.C. appellate court affirmed that a business could be considered a so-called joint-employer if it exercised a certain level of “indirect control” over employees’ working conditions. This decision is bound to shake up business groups’ plans to overturn the joint-employer standard, something many believed was certain to happen under the now Republican-controlled NLRB.

“The court is very clear that the determination of who is an employer is a legal question, not a policy question,” said Sam Bagenstos, a University of Michigan law professor. “And for this question, which is determined by common law, the courts decide that without giving any particular deference to the NLRB.”

The original saga of this case began in 2013 when a union petitioned the NLRB to represent Leadpoint Business Services workers, with Browning-Ferris named as a joint-employer, on the basis that the latter also controls the contractors’ wages and working conditions. Using its new and expanded joint-employer test, the NLRB ruled in favor of the workers, prompting Browning-Ferris to fight the decision ever since.

But not anymore.

This decision will also likely affect labor advocates and campaigns, such as Fight for 15, who have been arguing in court for the last few years that McDonald’s should be held liable as a joint-employer for the fast-food workers who were fired from their jobs when they engaged in nationwide protests for higher pay.

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Posted In: Union Matters

Union Matters

Steel for Wind Power

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities. 

Siemens Gamesa last month laid off 130 workers at its turbine blade manufacturing plant in Iowa, just months after GE Renewable Energy decided to close an Arkansas factory and eliminate 470 jobs.

The companies reported shrinking demand for their products, even though U.S. consumption of wind energy increases every year.

America’s prosperity depends not only on harnessing this crucial energy source but also ensuring that highly skilled U.S. workers build the components with the cleanest technology available.

Right now, the nation relies on imported steel and turbine components from foreign manufacturers like China while America’s own steel industry—well equipped for this production—struggles because of dumping and other unfair trade practices.

Steel makes up the bulk of turbine hubs and the wind towers themselves. It’s also used to make the cranes and platforms necessary for installing the towers.

Yet the potential boon to America’s steel industry is just one reason to ramp up domestic production of wind energy infrastructure.

American steel production ranks among the cleanest in the world, while China has the highest carbon emissions of any steelmaking nation and flouts environmental regulations.

The nation’s highly-skilled steelmaking workforce must play an essential role in the deeply-needed revitalization and modernization of the nation’s failing infrastructure. Producing the components for harnessing wind energy domestically and cleanly is an important step that will put Americans to work and position the United States to be world leaders in this growing industry.

 

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work