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NLRB overturns joint-employer standard

Description: On December 14, 2017, the the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) made it more difficult for millions of workers to join together and form a union, by overturning its joint-employer standard established in 2015’s Browning-Ferris Industries case. When two or more businesses co-determine or share control over a worker’s pay, schedule, or job duties, then both of those businesses may be considered joint-employers. The Trump NLRB yesterday weakened the joint-employer standard, making it harder for workers to organize, form unions, and negotiate for higher wages and better working conditions.

Fair Economy Impact: It is hard in today’s economy to bargain for higher wages or better working conditions, especially if your direct employer doesn’t really make those decisions. Under President Obama, the NLRB tried to make it easier for employees by holding each employer responsible when they co-determine what a worker’s wages, hours, and working conditions will be. In yesterday’s decision, the Trump NLRB decided to make it harder than ever for workers caught in alternative employment relationships such as sub-contracting and staffing agencies to bring both businesses who control their daily working conditions to the bargaining table. Moreover, the NLRB’s decision to weaken the joint-employer standard is bad law resulting from a bad process. Ordinarily, before overturning major precedent, the Board invites the public to comment by filing amicus briefs. However, this time, they did not, and instead announced this reversal with no warning or notice and allowed the public had no opportunity to weigh in.

The majority of American workers would vote for union representation if they could. However, the intensity with which employers have opposed organizing efforts, and the continuing tilt of the legal and policy playing field against workers seeking to bargain collectively, has led to a decline in union membership. Yesterday’s decision makes it clear the Trump board will work to further rig the system against working people.