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Labor board redefines employee eligibility for legal protections on union membership

Labor board redefines employee eligibility for legal protections on union membership

A U.S. government panel has redefined which workers are supervisors exempted from legal protection to join unions, bringing cries of protest from organized labor and sharp criticism from a former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board.
The labor relations board ruled that nurses who regularly run shifts at health care facilities should be considered supervisors and be exempt from federal protections that cover union membership. The decision Tuesday potentially has major implications for workers in other fields.
Former NLRB chairman William Gould described the ruling as "a radical reinterpretation of the statute to make it more difficult for 'charge nurses' to organize."
"This decision constitutes a flawed and erroneous interpretation," said Gould, who served on the NLRB in the 1990s and is now a professor at Stanford Law School. "It has potential for harm to the collective bargaining process."
Business advocates praised the NLRB decision.
Stephen Bokat, an attorney for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the decision provided "a good, clear standard" on which workers are supervisors.
"When undergoing any organizing efforts by unions, you have to know who in the work force belongs to you and who belongs to the union," Bokat said.
The NLRB, in a 3-2 ruling, also said people who work supervisory shifts only on a rotating basis may be exempt from supervisory status in some cases but not others, depending on the frequency and consistency of the shifts.
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney denounced the ruling as inviting employers to strip "workers of their right to have a union by reclassifying them as 'supervisors' in name only."
The decision was one of three related rulings issued Tuesday, grouped as the "Kentucky River" cases because they were intended to clarify the supervisor question from a case several years ago involving Kentucky River Community Care Inc.
Democratic lawmakers including Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and Rep. George Miller joined with labor leaders in harshly criticizing the decision.


Updated : 2021-08-03 23:00 GMT+08:00