Trump Takes Steps to Undo Obama Legacy on Labor

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from The New York Times,

President Trump is taking a major step to alter the direction of federal labor policy, positioning the National Labor Relations Board to overturn a series of high-profile Obama-era decisions.

By filling two vacant seats and swinging the board from Democratic to Republican control, Mr. Trump could reverse these actions:

• A ruling that increased the likelihood companies could be held responsible for labor violations committed by contractors and franchisees.

• A ruling that made it easier for relatively small groups of workers within a company to form a union.

• A ruling that granted graduate students at private universities a federally protected right to unionize.

• Rules enacted by the Obama-era board allowing union elections to proceed on a faster timetable. Many business groups refer to the new approach as “ambush” rules, complaining that employers no longer have sufficient time to make the case to workers against unionizing.

On Monday, the White House announced the nomination of Marvin Kaplan, a lawyer serving on a federal health and safety commission, to one of two vacant seats on the board, which currently has a 2-to-1 Democratic majority. A second nomination is expected shortly.

Supporters said the nominations would restore a state of normality to the agency. “I think the Obama labor board was extremely partisan and changed a lot of precedent,” said Matthew Haller, senior vice president for communications and public affairs at the International Franchise Association. “We are hopeful that the board will return to its traditional role as a neutral arbiter, balancing the interests of employers, employees and unions, and not just tipping the scales in favor of collective bargaining.”

Skeptics expressed concern that the nominations would undermine the labor rights of the rising proportion of the work force that is nonunionized, in addition to those who are union members.

“The N.L.R.B. is a really important agency for unorganized workers,” said Catherine Ruckelshaus, general counsel of the National Employment Law Project, an advocacy group. “A lot of the workers we work on behalf of benefit from decisions the board has made under the Obama N.L.R.B., which are on the chopping block.”

The Senate might not consider Mr. Kaplan’s nomination until the fall.

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