NLRB Ruling Opens Door to More Deunionizing

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued an important new ruling today in the so-called Kentucky River case. In a nutshell, the board ruled that lead nurses are “supervisors” and therefore have no right to join a union because they assign tasks and direct the work of other employees, specifically nursing aides. Can they hire or fire other employees? No. Doesn’t matter. They’re supervisors.

In the words of the dissenting board members:

Today’s decision threatens to create a new class of workers under Federal labor law: workers who have neither the genuine prerogatives of management, nor the statutory rights of ordinary employees. Into that category may fall most professionals (among many other workers), who by 2012 could number almost 34 million, accounting for 23.3 percent of the work force.

The full text of the majority ruling and the dissent is at: http://www.nlrb.gov/nlrb/shared_files/decisions/348/348-37.htm

Commentary at: Working Life, AFL-CIO Now, SEIU.

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5 Responses to NLRB Ruling Opens Door to More Deunionizing

  1. Tim says:

    Does this mean everyone that utilizes, in pool fashion, an office’s administrative assistant, is now management? Asinine. The NLRB’s strategy, under this bleeping administration, is too make EVERYone but the lowest possible employee unable to unionize. That also means that adjunct faculty in higher education, since they have the services of their department secretary, could also be labelled management, and hence be prevented from unionizing. Great. The NLRB could also probably prevent those hourly admin. assistants from unionizing based on the fact that, de facto, they run their offices/departments! – TL

  2. Toby Higbie says:

    Maybe. Maybe not. If you direct the secretary’s work in an independent fashion, then you’re a supervisor. Maybe not if you simply put work on his desk. But I’m sure some employer is just waiting to litigate this one, which is the worst part. The ruling opens the door to more endless litigation, further delaying union elections, etc.

    What strikes me most is that conservatives always complain about unions being out of step with new workplace realities. But here we have the NLRB shoehorning workers and unions into a completely out of date vision of factory production relationships.

  3. Tim says:

    Well said. My feeling is that the powers-to-be will utilize ~any~ paradigm, historical or cutting-edge theoretical, that increases profits for owners and stockholders.

    I apologize for my bluster above. These consistently anti-labor union decisions leave me flustered. – TL

  4. mfWhiteDude says:

    Well, then, I guess we have to take a lesson from our ancestors and just organize and strike anyway. Fuck this kind of death by government management. Until we all get a clue and stop “behaving” which is the lesson of our forebearers, we’re all screwed.

  5. Toby Higbie says:

    Definitely. But there are complications. See the Jonathan Tasini’s post on dumping the NLRB, and the comments that point out all the complications: http://workinglife.typepad.com/daily_blog/2006/10/abandon_the_nlr.html

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