Unions take action; gird themselves for pending NLRB rulings on supervisor status
UNION MEMBERS RALLIED LAST week in 18 cities across the U.S. --and
outside National Labor Relations Board headquarters in Washington, DC--
to protest what they anticipate will be significant anti-labor rulings by the agency.
The unions' "national week of action" came as the Board is poised to rule on a
trio of cases that will clarify, and perhaps sharply limit, who is eligible to join
a union under the National Labor Relations Act. Labor fears the rulings "will be
one of the most serious attacks on workers' rights in decades," according to the
AFL-CIO. Planned protests included marches to regional NLRB offices in
various cities. The AFL-CIO said the rallies marked the first time that such
concerted actions have focused on the Bush labor board's decisions.
Rulings are thought to be imminent on the pending Board cases, jointly referred to
as the "Kentucky River" cases, after the Supreme Court decision which prompted
their reconsideration ( NLRB v Kentucky River Community Care, Inc , USSCt 2001,
143 LC ¶10,988). The cases have been pending before the Board since 2002. The crux
of the issue in each is whether certain employees are "supervisors" under the NLRA--
and thus ineligible to join a union:
* Oakwood Healthcare, Inc, Case 7-RC-22141 (involving RN charge nurses in a
* Golden Crest Healthcare Center (enf. den'd 8thCir 2001) 144 LC ¶11,126 (charge
nurses in long-term care facilities);
* Croft Metals Inc , 337 NLRB No 106 , 2001-02 CCH NLRB ¶16,256 ("leadmen"
and "load supervisors" in a manufacturing facility).
Labor says these workers will likely be unfairly classified as supervisors and thus
ineligible for union representation. "At stake are collective bargaining rights for
hundreds of thousands of workers who could be reclassified as supervisors and
therefore not eligible for union protection under federal law," according to an AFL-
CIO statement. "By broadening the legal definition of 'supervisor,' these three
cases will significantly strip workers of their existing contract protections and
deny even more their right to organize, reversing decades of worker protections,"
the union contended.
Last Thursday, in light of the protests, the NLRB issued a statement. "In deciding
the three pending cases, the Board is bound by the decisions of the Supreme Court,"
the Board reminded. "After reviewing the written record, the briefs and arguments
of the parties, the relevant case precedent and the applicable sections of the Act,
the Board will issue its decisions in the pending cases."
At this point there are more than 60 other cases pending on the Board's decision in
the instant cases. According to American Rights at Work, a union advocacy group,
scores of organizing campaigns have been put on hold as well.
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