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11/30/2004

New NLRB Decisions Point to Onerous Climate

Two decisions issued last Friday by the National Labor Relations Board point to an onerous climate in which the Board is increasingly siding with employers over workers and denying workers their federally protected rights to form unions.

They are the latest evidence of a dangerous new trend that threatens some of our most fundamental freedoms.

In Oakwood Care Center, the Board effectively eliminates the rights of temporary agency workers under the National Labor Relations Act by ruling that these workers cannot be included in a unit with regular workers without the consent of both employers. Despite frequent rhetoric from the Bush Administration about meeting the challenges of the 21st century, this decision demonstrates an effort by the Bush Board to shrink the coverage of the federal law and reverse a decision that was designed in part to recognize changing employment patterns and remove an arbitrary barrier to organizing among temporary workers. This is in line with earlier decisions to eliminate coverage for graduate assistants (Brown University) and workers with disabilities (Brevard Achievement Center, Inc.). Temporary workers should have every right to improve their lives through collective action. This decision sends our nation in the wrong direction.

In Lutheran Heritage Village-Livonia case, the NLRB has allowed employers to use workplace rules that will inhibit workers’ freedom to form unions. The decision is a veiled attack on workers and gives employers opportunities to restrict workers’ activities that are protected under the NLRA. The decision reflects a push by the NLRB to elevate employer interests over workers’ rights and relieve employers of any liability in their attempts to stifle employee communication in the workplace.

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