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Jay Wallace Comments on Human Resource Executive regarding Potential Changes to NLRB’s Joint-Employer Relationship Standards

Bell Nunnally Partner Jay M. Wallace is quoted in the Human Resource Executive article “Separate Companies, Joint Employers?,” looking at the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) recent review of its case against Browning-Ferris Industries of California Inc. This case is a matter that could have an impact on the NLRB’s methods for determining joint-employer status – a standard, derived from the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), that has been largely unchanged for the previous 30 years.

In May, the NLRB solicited stakeholder feedback regarding the scope and definition of “joint employer relationships” under the NLRA. The NLRB is seeking comments on what new standards will look like and what considerations should factor into this definition.

Wallace notes that the NLRB’s interest in exerting influence over private companies is as intense and readily discernible as its favoritism towards unions. He adds that having a workplace where employees enjoy going about their duties is a good method for keeping unionization at bay. “This means that you have equipment that's properly maintained, proper ventilation and air conditioning control, safety training, you pay fair wages, and you do all the things that would make you not attractive for union activity. If the union comes in and you've done all this, your employees will say they're treated well, and there's no reason to talk to the union."

Wallace encourages employers to be vigilant when it comes to union activity, “Keep your eyes and ears open for conduct in your workplace among staffing and regular workers who appear that they might be trying to organize a union. Are they collecting people together to meet after work? Are there rumors they're meeting at a hotel on a Thursday night? Are you observing or hearing about activity that means they might be trying to form a union? Get your managers in place to try to get the workers to tune union information out before they even have an election. "

According to Wallace, workers who exert a high-level of influence in the workplace need to be well-educated on the information they have been provided by pro-union factions. “You ask your workers, ‘What's the union promising you in terms of wages? Has the union told you that if you agree to a collective bargaining unit you won't be paid on merit anymore? The best worker will be paid the same as the worst, and you'll all get the same bonus."

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