Saturday, March 31, 2007

Little noted but much appreciated

A bill to reverse an idiotic decision of the increasingly management friendly National Labor Relations Board has been introduced in both houses of Congress.

The bill, called the Re-Empowerment of Skilled and Professional Employees and Construction Tradeworkers (RESPECT) Act, would undo a board decision rendered in September that redefined "supervisor" in a way that could deny labor protection to millions of workers.

In a case involving a nurses' union, the majority of the Board, dominated by Shrub appointees, held that charge nurses are "supervisors" because they "assign" tasks and have a "responsibility to direct others." This was said to be so even though they do no hiring or firing, do not formally evaluate employees, and have no power to discipline. Since supervisors cannot join unions, that decision affected hundreds of thousands of nurses. The Economic Policy Institute estimated that more than a third of all RNs would be affected.

Indeed, labor advocates said that the decision could mean that anyone who delegates tasks to others would likewise be a "supervisor" outside the protection of labor laws and barred from joining a union.

To repair that, the RESPECT Act would remove the terms "assign" and "responsibility to direct" from the definition of supervisor and add a requirement that supervisory duties are undertaken "for a majority of the individual’s work time" for them to fit the term.

The bill was introduced by Senators Chris Dodd, Richard Durbin, and Edward Kennedy and Representatives Rob Andrews and Rosa DeLauro.

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