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Friday, July 4, 2014

NLRB gets an earful on its “joint employer” definition

English: Color logo of the National Labor Rela...
English: Color logo of the National Labor Relations Board, an independent agency of the United States federal government. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A coalition of occupational health and safety experts submitted an amicus brief to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) last Thursday, urging the Board to reconsider its restrictive definition of “joint employer” for purposes of collective bargaining.  It’s a critical issue for workers as more and more are getting jobs through temp firms, staffing agencies, and other complex employment relationships.  The workers who got your last-minute Father’s Day gift from the Amazon warehouse to your front door, for instance, don’t all get paychecks from Amazon, but they all operate at “Prime” speed because Amazon demands it.

From a health and safety perspective, it’s important that laws like the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) are interpreted broadly because the remedial purposes of those statutes – to ensure all workers can collectively bargain for better working conditions and to ensure that all workers are provided safe jobs – are best achieved when all of the employers with a connection to the job are at the table.

As the amici describe very well, the labor market is evolving to exploit loopholes in the laws that were meant to keep workers safe on the job.  In industries like waste management,
manufacturing, and food production, companies are contracting out some of the most dangerous jobs.  Through those contracts, the host employers seek to...
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