Tag Archives: Washington DC

Walking Dead returns Sunday, but the Zombie NLRB is already here

English: Zombies in Moscow
English: Zombies in Moscow (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Zombies walk among us

The season 4 premiere of The Walking Dead airs on AMC this coming Sunday, but apparently the Zombie Apocalypse got has already begun in Washington DC. The shutdown of the Federal government is creating some truly terrifying results, including the creation of zombie agencies like the NLRB – operating with what is literally a skeleton crew consisting of the top leadership. For now anyway, the message from the NLRB is “Don’t call us, we’ll cal you…after the shutdown is over.”

Check out more in this report from the  HuffPo Politics page:

The federal agency that enforces labor law on companies and unions has been almost entirely shuttered since the government shutdown began, delaying union elections and stalling the investigation of unfair labor practices. The National Labor Relations Board was nearly derailed earlier this year due to fights in Congress and the courts over President Obama’s recess appointments to the board. Although the agency survived that political spat intact, it isn’t faring so well during the shutdown. Out of more than 1,600 employees, the agency planned to furlough all but 11 of them in the case of government closure, leaving less than 1 percent of its workforce as “excepted” shutdown personnel, according to the agency’s contingency plan. That would mean the federal agency is working with fewer employees nationwide than the individual D.C. offices of certain senators, many of whom have deemed their entire staffs excepted personnel during the shutdown. Ten senators — seven Republicans, including Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), and three Democrats — haven’t furloughed any staffers at all, according to a HuffPost count. The NLRB’s functioning staff includes the five members of the independent board itself, its acting general counsel and a handful of other high-level personnel in Washington. The lawyers and other employees in the agency’s regional offices throughout the country — who perform the nuts and bolts of investigation and enforcement — would have been sent home. An NLRB spokesman, speaking in a message left on his office voicemail, said the agency is closed for business and won’t be responding to calls until the shutdown is over. Here is a helpful post regarding the ramifications of the shutdown related to business with the NLRB, from the law firm Epstein Becker Green:

On Monday October 1, 2013, the Board published a Notice in the Federal Register to the NLRB’s website that supplements the effects of the Contingency Plan that we examined at outset of the government shutdown and NLRB furlough. Significantly, the Notice answers some of the important practical questions confronting employers, unions and employees with business before the Board. With respect to time limits for filings with the agency, according to the Notice, the Board has unilaterally granted an extension of the time to file or serve most documents (with some exceptions) equal to the number of days (including partial days) that the shutdown lasts. With regards to representation elections and hearings scheduled for October 1 – 11, they are postponed indefinitely. Significantly, the Notice makes clear that the extension of time does not apply to the 6-month statute of limitations applicable to filing charges under Section 10(b) of the National Labor Relations Act. In the Notice, the Board recommends that anyone who wishes to file a charge while the NLRB is shut down do so by faxing a copy of the charge to the appropriate Regional Office. Anyone doing this would be well advised to keep records and evidence such as confirmations of transmittal, so that they can, if necessary, show when their charges were sent to and received by the Board’s fax numbers. As frustration with the furlough continues to mount, it seems the agency has taken action that, whether intentionally or inadvertently, is likely to aggravate the impact of the shutdown on the labor and management communities by prohibiting public access to existing resources such as the research and other informational functions typically available on the Board’s website. While we do not know whether this was required by the Contingency Plan or some other dictate, it is worth noting that at least at this time, the websites of other federal agencies in the labor and employment arena, such as those of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service and the Department of Labor’s, remain functional

 

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Federal appeals court strikes down proposed NLRB union notification requirement

NLRB posting requirement for employers struck down, termed government compelled speech

Fairly important ruling over the proposed NLRB employer posting requirements, citing concerns over freedom of speech, and calling the NLRB proposal “government compelled speech”.   The streak continues. 

From the LA Times:

WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court here struck down Tuesday a rule that would have required more than 6 million private employers to post notices telling workers of their right to join a union.

The decision is the latest setback for unions and the Obama administration at the hands of the conservative-leaning appeals court in Washington.

When President Obama took office, union leaders hoped that a reenergized National Labor Relations Board could stop or reverse the long decline in union membership. Only about 7% of private workers in the U.S. belong to unions.

Two years ago the board adopted a rule requiring employers to post a “notification of employee rights” in their workplaces. The one-page form was to include the basic rights protected by federal labor law, including the right to join a union and to go on strike.

But the National Assn. of Manufacturers (NAM) and several anti-union groups went to court to challenge the rule before it could take effect.

On Tuesday, a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia Circuit struck down the rule on the grounds that the NLRB had overstepped its authority under law. Judge Raymond Randolph described the rule as government “compelled speech.”

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Your inspiring expert video could be worth thousands!

Randstad “Inspiring Experts” Contest

I was asked to pass word along about this contest from the fine people at Randstad.  You will definitely want to check out their new Inspiring Experts program. It is a scholarship program and contest to inspire the next generation of workers even in this tough job market.

Here are some more details.   I think I’m going to jump in and see what happens.

Randstad “Inspiring Experts” Contest

Are you a student or a seasoned professional looking to impact the world through your career? Tell Randstad about it! It’s simple – record a video to inspire others on choosing the right career path. Submit your video, and share with friends to get them to vote. If you get the most votes, you could win up to $10,000! The top student vote getter will receive a $10,000 scholarship, and the top professional vote getter will receive a $5,000 gift for themselves and $5,000 for their favorite charity. 2nd – 5th ranked student vote getters will each receive a $2,000 scholarships, and 2nd – 5th ranked professional vote getters will each receive a $1,000 gift for themselves and $1,000 for their favorite charity. The top five finalists in both categories will also receive an iPad2 and have the chance to get their name out and build their resumes by guest blogging at InspiringExperts.com.

Learn more about the contest and submit your video today at www.inspiringexperts.com.

The InspiringExperts Video Contest is open to legal residents of the 50 U.S. States, and the District of Columbia. You must be 18 or older by October 1, 2011 to submit a video. No purchase necessary. See full rules at
http://www.inspiringexperts.

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SHRM working to connect the social media dots

SHRM and Social Media

I was going to write a post with some detail about the #SHRMconnect task force I took part in last in Washington DC, but that has already been done in great fashion by Victorio Milian.  You should be sure to check out his thoughts on “The Rebirth of SHRM Connect“.  

Along with Victorio and myself, others in attendance at the meeting or a related event included Ben Eubanks, Jessica Merrill, Sharlyn LaubyBryan WempenJohn JorgensenPamela J. Green,  SHRM CIO Heidi ByerlyCurtis MidkiffLaurie McIntosh,  Gary Rubin, Steven Williams, Anne-Margaret Olsson, and several others.   I was especially pleased to see SHRM CEO Hank jackson attend a dinner for the team, and speak to us about the importance of social media to SHRM, and share with us that it is one of his goals for 2011 to figure out social media and get it done right.

This was the most important thing that I took away from the SHRM Connect task force meeting.   As our professional organization, SHRM has social media directly in their headlights.   They are working hard not just to figure out how to manage it, but also how to put it work strategically.  In this, they mirror many of our own organizations.   In essence, they are going through the same struggle many of us are, and we can all learn lessons from the experience.    I hope SHRM remembers to share the organizational knowledge they are gaining with their members.  Based on my experience with this task force, I firmly believe they will.    It would be a great experiment in real time learning.  I hope many HR professionals will pay attention and share in the learning.

I am proud of our professional organization for stepping up to meet this challenge head on.  I am grateful for a chance to be a part of the process.   Thanks, SHRM!

I also heard about HR Talk, and visited that bulletin board for the first time ever.  What an experience that turned out to be!

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Day 3 in DC: What would Frances Perkins say about micro unions?

The Frances Perkins Building of the U.S. Depar...
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Random Department of Labor video

I spent the afternoon walking around Washington DC today.  I wound up in front of the Frances Perkins building, which is the home to the United States Department of Labor.    I looked around for picketers and protesters, but I didn’t see any.   I visited some museums, and shot some random video.

The video is pretty unimportant.   The story from Shopfloor on the possible creation of “micro unions” that you will find below the jump is important.   Go read it, and pay attention to what it says.

NLRB hears arguments on “micro unions”

From Shopfloor:

Arguments Pro and Con on NLRB’s Plan to Allow ‘Micro Unions’

The National Labor Relations Board has posted the amicus briefs submitted in response to the NLRB’s review of a case that the board could use to justify a radical change in labor policy, the authorization of “micro unions.” (See our posts immediately below here and here.)

The case is Specialty Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center of Mobile and United Steelworkers, District 9. The National Association of Manufacturers is a member of the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, which submitted its amicus brief in alliance with the HR Policy Association.

To simplify the sides, employers and employer groups believe the NLRB is going too far in turning one specific labor dispute into a broader review of what legitimately constitutes a bargaining unit. Labor unions want a million units to bloom, allowing organizers to pick and choose small groups of employees whom they can more efficiently persuade and pressure into joining a union.

The employer’s brief: Specialty Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center of Mobile

The union’s brief: United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union, AFL-CIO/CLC, i.e., USW

Amicus briefs from labor unions:

Amicus briefs from employer groups:

Submitting a letter were three Republican members of the Senate Heath, Education, Labor and Pensions Comittee: Senators Mike Enzi, Orrin Hatch, Johnny Isakson

P.S. We’ve knocked the NLRB for its foray into social media and Google advertising, inappropriate activities for a quasi-judicial agency. That said, the board and its staff have made excellent improvements to the board’s website, www.nlrb.gov, allowing relatively efficient researching of this case.

A suggestion: Instead of just posting with a single title that appears repeatedly, actually identify the party that submitted the brief in the title/link. Posting the name, “Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America,” is more informative than repeated entries of “Amicus Brief for 15-RC-008773.”

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Go west social media guy, go west: The new frontier of workplace communications

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Social Media Help wanted by unions

I see ads for positions like this one more and more often these days.

Just like many other organizations, organized labor is recruiting good social media talent, and community managers.  This is really not a surprise.  Social media is the new frontier of communication and outreach for many organizations, and labor unions getting in the game in a big way.  Check out the job description below for some insight into how they are doing so.  Don’t worry, I’ve taken the liberty of helping point them out by providing some color cues.

SOCIAL MEDIA AND CAMPAIGN ORGANIZER

Job Title: Social Media and Campaign Organizer

Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, is the fastest growing organization for working people in the country. With more than three million members, Working America recruits and mobilizes people who do not have a union on the job in support of working families’ issues.

The Social Media and Campaign Organizer will organize on social networks, and the blogosphere around a specific campaign focus. The position is a fixed-term position for 6 months from date of hire.

Reports to: Deputy Director

DESCRIPTION OF DUTIES:

Build and deepen member relationships: Maintain and promote Working America’s Facebook page and Twitter feed. Increase participation of our members, engage in discussions, and increase fans and followers.
• Blog: Write blog posts for Working America’s Main Street blog and other progressive blogs.
• Coalition Organizing: Work with coalition partners to promote campaign and organizing goals.
• Drive campaign: Working America often runs multiple campaigns simultaneously. The Social Media and Campaign Organizer will be assigned to a specific campaign, and must continue to drive that campaign as other staff are moved in different directions.
• Responsive Organizing: Monitor news and online activist communities to find and develop breaking campaign opportunities in Working America’s core areas.
• Research: Research materials for campaign site, emails and social media use.

QUALIFICATIONS AND SKILLS NEEDED:

• Demonstrated effectiveness in creating and executing social media campaigns.
• Strong background in, or strong familiarity with, the labor movement, movements for progressive social change, and political or issue campaigns.
• Commitment to editorial excellence.
Strong background in the progressive blogosphere.
• Effective time management skills, including prioritizing and managing multiple tasks.
• Ability to stay focused on a particular task, independent of others.
• Demonstrated experience meeting tough deadlines and providing fast turn-around of quality communications and working in a high-pressure environment.
• Demonstrated ability to effectively collaborate and work well with internal and external staff at all levels.
• Demonstrated ability to be flexible and able to adapt quickly to meet project needs.
• Ability to work effectively in a team environment.
• Ability to work independently within the context of a plan.
• Excellent communication skills.

PREFERRED SKILLS:

HTML and CSS.
• Experience in online advertising.

Location
• Washington, DC

Position Type
• Full-time/Fixed-term for six months from date of hire

Competitive salary with excellent benefits package, including health care, dental, vision and 401(k); equal opportunity employer; excellent on-the-job training and opportunities for advancement.

You can apply here.

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New NLRB posting requirement for employers proposed

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NLRB continues aggressively changing the rules

The last thing people think about during the holiday season is labor relations.  Well, most people – I am sort of a labor relations geek, but even I am surprised at the volume of news that continues to pour of the National Labor Relations Board offices in Washington D.C. as we head toward year end.

NLRB wants employers to post notice on employee right to organize

New York Times labor writer Steven Greenhouse reported on December 21st that The National Labor Relations Board said that it would require companies to post notices on their bulletin boards , and possibly use e-mail notices to inform employees of their right to unionize under federal law.

The right to organize is nothing new. Employees have had it since the passage of the Wagner Act in 1935, but employers have never been required to do a mandatory posting before.    For some, the requirement is nothing major.  For others, the symbolism is an affront.    No matter how you feel, it is another step in the process of the Obama NLRB making it easier for unions to organize at your company.

Here are some of the reactions from various sides of this discussion, including business, labor unions, and the legal community, taken from the Greenhouse story:

Chamber of Commerce Reaction to NLRB posting proposal

These actions are consistent with a general ramp-up of enforcement against employers we are seeing across the board,” said Randel K. Johnson, senior vice president for labor policy at the United States Chamber of Commerce.

“The question here is, Is the N.L.R.B. moving forward on these steps based on true evidence that current, strong remedies are ineffective or just based on some vague arbitrary notion that employers are to blame for the decline in union membership and so therefore enforcement must be increased?” Mr. Johnson said.

AFL-CIO  reaction to NLRB posting rule

Every working person in America deserves to know his or her rights,” said Richard L. Trumka, the A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s president. “This rule ensures that workers’ rights are effectively communicated in the workplace. It is necessary in the face of widespread misunderstanding about the law and many workers’ justified fear of exercising their rights under it.

Legal Community reaction to NLRB rule

Ronald Meisburg, a lawyer at Proskauer Rose who was the labor board’s general counsel under President George W. Bush, said the proposed posting requirement would not prove a major event.

“We have a plethora of required notices,” he said. “It’s like noise pollution. It’s like sign pollution. One more poster isn’t going to stand out.”

He said businesses would be more concerned by the board’s proposal that would require companies that normally communicate with employees by e-mail to distribute the new notice to employees by e-mail.

Stay tuned for more NLRB changes to the labor laws in the United States, and more updates here on HRH.

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The subtle conspiracy against social media

Social Media Cafe Manchester - Panelists
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 “Social media – Them’s fightin words around these parts!”

I hear the words “social media” discussed so much anymore that I am starting to fear the backlash of overhype at a time when people in the HR profession can ill afford for that happen.   It would make it for another far too easy excuse for many HR professionals to throw out as their response as to why they can’t /won’t / don’t do much with social media.   Sad, but true. 

So, what am I doing today?   I’m gonna discuss social media some more. 

I want to broach a topic that I have discussed at length with a few people.   I am not going to share details, but do want to raise the issue at a high level for your consideration, and to prompt some discussion.  If what I am about to describe occurs within the HR profession, it certainly takes place in other functional areas as well.

The conspiracy – it’s not just a theory

I often discuss mingling my work in social media with the professional work I do in other areas.   I have discovered recently that I take for granted the level of flexibility I have in doing stuff related to social media on an on-going basis, including writing this blog and speaking at conferences, and other events which I am more and more frequently being invited to participate in. 

I realized this after hearing a very similar story from more than one person who has experienced conflicts with their employer over their social media activities, even when they were being open about it, and doing it on their own time.

The long story made short goes like this:

  • I took vacation to attend a conference and they were pissed that I was going.
  • They tried to make me cancel my trip when they found out where I was going even though it was my vacation time.
  • They questioned my loyalty and dedication when they heard I had a blog.
  • They suspected that I was blogging and talking to other HR professionals during working hours.

I could go on, but I think the point is obvious.  Many of us engaged in the HR/social media space are getting the stink eye from our managers, for a multitude of reasons:

  • We are slacking in our professional duties by communicating with our professional peers.
  • We are showing a lack of commitment by attempting to increase our professional knowledge and competence through the “timewasting”  tools of social media.
  • We might be job searching while we are “chatting online with our friends”.

I could go on, but I won’t.    I’ll just say I don’t get it. 

I use social media tools as a professional asset every day,  and many of the people I work with get it.   Not all, but many.   They don’t think I am shirking my duties.  In fact, they come to me fr assitance in doing “that internet stuff” when a specific situation develops that merits research and review.  They share tips with me about things they see related to my typcial research. 

Are HR managerial people who don’t get it so easily threatened by those of us that do that they feel the need to drag down the possible value by attacking  our professionalism?  

Are they so lacking in knowledge of the value of these tools that they can only take the short term view of  social media being a timesuck?

why revile someone working to advance their skills and knowledge?  Why not embrace these early adopters and put their skills to work for your organization, especially when you can’t do it yourself?

These questions are somewhat rhetorical, and clearly don’t take into account larger issue like employers blocking access, corporate policies, fears of liability under FTC guidelines, and many others, but I would love to continue the dialogue. 

I am grateful that all my personal experiences in this regard have been positive and encouraging, but I’d lobe to hear from you on this topic. 

Share your opinion in the comments, or share your personal experience, if you dare.    

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Inside Washington D.C. : HR Public Policy according to SHRM

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Employment Law and Legislative Developments

Yesterday was the opening day of the 2010 SHRM Employment Law and Legislative Conference.   I’d like to thank the fine people at SHRM Public Affairs for granting me press credentials to cover the conference this week, especially Julie Malveaux and Jennifer Hughes for helping make that happen.

And with that, here is my summary of the day one activity.

SHRM and Public Policy

SHRM does a good job at staying on top of policy developments as they relate to the potential impact on employers, and with sharing information with members regarding policy.  Yesterday, Mike Aitken from SHRM gave a 90 minute overview of his view of current public policy issues and their status in Washington DC.    He discussed 4 major policy issue categories during his talk.  While I can’t cover all that he said, here are some of the high points, and the four categories.

Health Care Reform is the 900 lb gorilla in the room in the Capitol right now.    According to Mike, this topic is overwhelming the focus on everything else, including labor law reform such as the Employee Free Choice Act.    SHRM has worked with Congress to ensure that the views of the profession are heard in Congress.  These include:

  • Strengthen and improve the employer-based health care system
  • Encourage greater use of health prevention, promotion, and wellness programs
  • Strengthen the Employee Retirement Income Security Act to ensure that a national, uniform framework for health care benefits
  • Reduce health care costs by improving quality and transparency
  • Ensure tax policy contributes to lower costs and greater access

Labor Management and Civil Rights Issues was the other category that Mike spent most of his time on.    The major takeaways here were:

  • Employee Free Choice Act is derailed by the health care issues right now, and frankly seems to be on life support.
  • Labor reform alternatives or compromise with unions as a “payback” for supporting Democrats in past elections that could include so-called “quickie elections” for union recogntions (currently 42 days), mail in ballots for elections, the use of “baseball”  or last offer arbitration to settle initial union contracts, and granting more liberal access to employer premises and property in order conduct union organizing activities
  • Recess appointment of controversial nominee Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board.  Aitken does not believe this will happen

Aitken also briefly discussed Workplace Flexibility and Leave Benefits, and Tax and Benefit Issues in his talk.

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Mr. Smith, Ms. Ginsberg and I go to Washington!

Rick, you forgot to put on your reading glasses
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Laws and Legislation

Tomorrow morning at this time, I should halfway to the Orlamdo airport where I will be catching to a plane to Washington D.C. so that I can attend the SHRM 2010 Employment Law & Legislative Conference.   I was lucky enough to be granted press access to the event by SHRM, and I am looking forward to seeing everyone from SHRM very soon.

I’ll be writing  about the potentially enormous amount of activity on workplace legislative issues that we may see from Congress and the White House this year.  I’ll be tweeting  from the conference as well, along with some other HR bloggers, including Joan Ginsberg, Paul Smith, and folks from the SHRM Public Affairs office.  You can follow our tweets on the #shrmleg10 twub here.

I’ll also be having lunch with Mary Ellen Slayter of Smartbrief to discuss some upcoming projects.

I am also looking forward to a truly  unique event – a SHRM tweetup at the Library of Congress!

VIP Washington Reception at the Library of Congress

On Thursday, March 18, SHRM will host an invitation-only reception in the Library of Congress for everyone attending the 2010 Employment Law & Legislative Conference.  SHRM was granted special permission from the Librarian of the Congress to host this event for its members – an uncommon occurrence for any association.

The Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and serves as the research arm of Congress.  It also is the largest library in the world, with nearly 142 million items including more than 32 million books and other print materials in 470 languages; and the world’s largest collection of legal materials, films, maps, sheet music and sound recordings.

During this VIP Washington Reception, HR tweeters will unite for the first-ever SHRM Legislative Conference Tweetup. SHRM Public Affairs (@SHRMPA) will be posting tweets and photos throughout the evening on March 18.  To follow the Legislative Conference and VIP Reception on Twitter that night, please go to http://twitter.com/ and enter the hashtag #SHRMLEG10 into the search box.

If you are at the conference, or in Washington DC and would like to get together, let me know.   I’d love to connect!

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