August 22, 2010
August 22, 2010
Workplace Regulations Are On The Way
By Tom Donohue,
President and CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
1. The Employee Free Choice Act
2 Labor Dept. rules for employers justifying worker classifcation
3. New OHSA plan forcing employers to track injuries
4. Federal agencies to union-only labor agreements
The Employee Free Choice Act—better known as card check—could be making a comeback. In a recent interview, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said, “I think you’ll see the Employee Free Choice Act come up again. I think you’ll see it, probably, before the end of the year.” If Trumka’s prediction comes true, it couldn’t happen at a worse time. With unemployment at 9.5%, it makes absolutely no sense to enact job-killing legislation that will also take away workers’ rights to a secret ballot in unionization votes.
But card check isn’t the only item on Big Labor’s wish list that should be of concern to business owners—it’s just the most visible one. In fact, many of the changes that will affect employers are taking place under the radar through the federal regulatory process. Let’s take a look at some of these rules and the impact they could have on your business.
First, is an anticipated Department of Labor regulation that would require employers to submit written analyses justifying worker classifications, such as eligibility for overtime, under the Fair Labor Standards Act. These analyses would be made available on demand both to employees and government investigators. Not only will this lead to additional paperwork for employers, but it could open the door to lawsuits based upon the alleged misclassifi cation of employees.
Second, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is moving forward on a rule that would require employers to keep track of work-related injuries associated with ergonomics risks. This regulation is viewed as the precursor to a broader effort on ergonomics, such as a regulation mandating safety and health programs according to OSHA’s standards, rather than practices that will work or are working for employers. This regulation will cost employers time and money to implement, and it is highly questionable that it would result in any workplace safety improvements.
Finally, federal contractors should brace themselves for change. The administration has already finalized rules strongly “encouraging” federal agencies to require union-only labor agreements on large construction projects. This creates a significant disadvantage for nonunion contractors to bid on federal projects and will decrease competition and raise procurement costs for the government—and ultimately for the taxpayer.
Unfortunately, labor regulations are only the tip of the iceberg. The administration has unleashed a regulatory avalanche across a range of issues—health care, financial markets, and the environment, among others. This creates tremendous uncertainty for businesses and slows job creation. Let’s make American jobs—not new regulations—our top priority.