Category Archives: Labor Laws/Legislation

A Major Setback for Pay Equality: The Supreme Court’s Decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company

Source: Norma M. Riccucci, Review of Public Personnel Administration, Vol. 28, no. 1, March 2008
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Pay inequities based on gender continue to pervade the public and private sector landscapes. Although Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended and the Equal Pay Act of 1963 proscribe unequal pay for equal work, the newly formed U.S. Supreme Court has issued a ruling in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company (2007) that ignores Court precedents as well as provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, making it more difficult for employees to file suit for pay inequities. Ultimately, the problem of pay disparities in the workplace can only worsen.
See also:
S. 1843 Fair Pay Restoration Act

Beyond Justice: Bush Administration’s Labor Department Abuses Labor Union Regulatory Authorities

Source: Scott Lilly, Center for American Progress, December 10, 2007

From the summary:
The problem of unfair and unequal application of the law, however, extends well beyond the Justice Department. Failure by a wide range of regulatory agencies to enforce federal law has benefited some segments of society at the expense of others. There is ample evidence that in recent years the laws protecting the public against air and water pollution, workers against health and safety risks, and consumers against unsafe foods, drugs, and commercial products have all been laxly enforced to the significant financial benefit of certain businesses and at the expense of those whose health and safety those laws were designed to protect.

Lax regulatory enforcement, however, has not been a government-wide policy. In at least one instance, rigorous and in fact pernicious regulatory enforcement was the course chosen by the Bush administration. That instance involved the regulatory authorities of the U.S. Department of Labor under the Landrum-Griffin Act aimed at improving the governance of the nation’s organized labor organizations.

Rather than relax these regulatory responsibilities, the Bush administration shoveled significantly more federal tax dollars into the department’s Office of Labor-Management Services so that key political operatives in OLMS could expand and exercise regulatory authority to:

• Impose costly and confusing new reporting requirements
• Attempt to increase the number of criminal prosecutions
• Disclose the results to the public in seriously misleading ways
• Mischaracterize the published data through a variety of false analyses

The underlying purpose, of course, is to undermine the reputation of the labor union movement through a classic political misinformation campaign–all under the supervision of a lifelong partisan political operative whose career has been dedicated to the destruction of his political opponents.

Donning and Doffing: The New Wave of FLSA Litigation

Source: Brian Walter and Cepideh Roufougar, IPMA-HR News, December, 2007
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Throughout the state of California and the United States, police officers are demanding compensation for time spent putting on and taking off their police uniforms. This rash of “donning and doffing” cases is based on a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court involving employees working in a meat processing plant. Courts all over the country are now facing the question: “What do police officers have in common with meat processing plant workers?” Public employers are anxiously awaiting an answer to this question, as the answer could cost employers and the public tens of millions of dollars.

The Union Authorization Card Majority Debate

Source: Henry H. Drummonds, Labor Law Journal, Vol. 58 no. 4, Winter, 2007

This article sketches developments in the card majority debate and several related issues reflected in developing case law concerning the use of “salts,” “neutrality” agreements, and accretion clauses in union attempts to expand representation rights. It also briefly mentions other significant recent decisions that make it more difficult for unions to win, and keep, representation rights. … A major public policy issue faces the Congress, state legislatures, and federal and state labor boards. How is the ideal of employee free choice best actualized? The law is changing. From the union side one sees legislative attempts to win card majority recognition/certification rights and to avoid elections in which employers are free to campaign against unionization at all costs. And from the perspective of the NLRB’s General Counsel and the NLRB’s current majority, concerns for employee free choice create persistent questioning of long-assumed principles of card check recognition. For the private sector unions, especially, this issue may decide their ultimate fate as the percentage of represented employees shrinks toward the vanishing point.

Child Labor

Source: Megha Bahree, Forbes, Vol. 181 no. 4, February 25, 2008

That garden stone, handmade carpet or embroidered T-shirt you just bought was probably made by child labor.

Every time you buy an imported handmade carpet, an embroidered pair of jeans, a beaded purse, a decorated box or a soccer ball there’s a good chance you’re acquiring something fashioned by a child. Such goods are available in places like GapKids, Macy’s, ABC Carpet & Home, Ikea, Lowe’s, and Home Depot. These retailers say they are aware of child-labor problems, have strict policies against selling products made by underage kids and abide by the laws of the countries from which they import. But there are many links in a supply chain, and even a well-intentioned importer can’t police them all.

“There are many, many household items that are produced with forced labor and not just child labor,” says Bama Athreya, executive director of the International Labor Rights Forum in Washington, D.C. It’s a fact of a global economy, and will continue to be, as long as Americans (and Europeans) demand cheap goods–and incomes in emerging economies remain low. If a child is enslaved, it’s because his parents are desperately poor.

Labor Hits Jackpot

Source: Melinda Tuhus, In These Times, February 5, 2008

Foxwoods Resort Casino rises from the hills of rural southeastern Connecticut like a gambler’s Oz.

It is one of the country’s biggest Indian casinos and it is the largest employer in the state, with 10,000 workers. Of those employees, about 2,600 are dealers of games such as poker and blackjack. And on Nov. 24, 2007, many of these dealers placed a bet on a better life with the United Auto Workers (UAW). ….

It’s the first election at an Indian casino to be overseen by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which made a groundbreaking ruling last year that allowed Indian casinos to be unionized. But casino management has appealed the vote, claiming it violates tribal sovereignty.

Decline and Disenchantment: Reflections on the Aging of the National Labor Relations Board

Source: Wilma B. Liebman, Berkeley Journal of Employment and Labor Law, Volume 28, no. 2, 2007

In this essay, the senior member of the National Labor Relations Board reflects on the aging of American labor law and the agency that administers it. In her view, the National Labor Relations Act, which has not been updated in 60 years, is now out of sync with a transformed economy. Meanwhile, the Board, even accounting for the statutory, judicial and political constraints under which it operates, has failed in its duty to apply the statute dynamically. The author suggests, however, that the stakes are too high to abandon hope for a revitalization of labor law and policy.