Senate Bill To Curb NLRB: Following Dems introduction last week of the “WAGE Act” to radically expand NLRB powers to facilitate union organizing, on Monday, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced a counter-measure to cut drastically the Board’s role and authority. The text of the Protecting American Jobs Act (S. 2084) is not yet available online, but Law360 ($) reports the bill “would allow the board to conduct investigations, but it would hand the power to hear labor disputes over to federal courts.”
Sen. Lee asserts:
For far too long the NLRB has acted as judge, jury, and executioner, for labor disputes in this country…. The havoc they have wrought by upsetting decades of established labor law has cost countless jobs. This common sense legislation would finally restore fairness and accountability to our nation’s labor laws.
Al Jazeera Digital Employees Vote: Al Jazeera America declined to voluntarily recognize the News Guild as the representative of its digital employees. As a result, a mixed live / mail ballot election conducted by the NLRB began yesterday, with ballots to be counted on October 6, 2015.
Interesting Debate on the Gig Economy: The interfluidity blog posts a piece exploring antitrust elements of the classification of “independent contractors” in the new “gig economy,” asking:
Suppose the criteria for 1099 status really emphasized having multiple customers. For example, if you make money by offering people rides, the fact that you get to set your own schedule doesn’t cut it, if substantially all of your business comes from [one company]. To qualify as an independent contractor, if you do substantial business with a regular, repeat customer, you must have multiple customers in that line of business for whom you do substantial work. Otherwise, there is a strong presumption that you should be considered an employee of your customer.
The piece also suggests that contractors be guaranteed a minimum “unconditional basic income” in exchange for forgoing all the benefits of “employee” status. The pro-union OnLabor blog argues, however, that this proposal would benefit capital and consumer competition, without a commensurate benefit to workers:
[B]eing an employee under current law is important for reasons that go beyond the right to earn a minimum income. Being an employee entitles workers to safety and health guarantees, workers compensation, unemployment insurance, anti-discrimination protections, and the right to form unions and collectively bargain (which can translate into a host of additional protections and benefits, including a voice at work and protection against unjust discharge). Interfluidity is right that a basic income can – if set sufficiently high enough – increase worker bargaining power by, e.g., raising the reservation wage. And this bargaining power can, in turn, be translated into lots of other things. But the bargaining power that would flow from a basic income is unlikely to be a sufficient substitute for all the legal protections that come from being an employee under current law – especially given the dramatic political constraints on what the level of a basic income conceivable could be.