Last week I reviewed the top five most significant developments in labor law from 2016. This week I have assembled a list of the five most important things that should be on every labor professional’s “to do” list for 2017.
Pay Attention! From the NLRB to the DOL to the courts, 2017 will bring a number of twists and turns; including some that no crystal ball will be able to foretell. So, the number 1 thing you should do: monitor those developments. Subscribe to a blog (this one, for example!). Sign up for alerts from a labor law firm (this one, for example!). Stay tuned to your favorite trade association. Or whatever way you have found success in keeping up-to-date on current events.
Review Temp Usage. The NLRB’s decision on temps in the bargaining unit will place a premium on the language in your temp agency agreement as well as how you actually use and treat temporaries in the workplace. Be prepared to respond to union organizing activity that will impact both your regular and temporary workforce.
Decide Your Risk Tolerance. Reversals of Obama NLRB decisions that were not employer friendly will take time, even if the Senate promptly confirms more employer friendly appointees. In the meantime, President Obama’s GC continues in office for much of 2017. For example, employee handbooks have been a hot topic at the NLRB for the last few years. But, a more employer-friendly NLRB may reverse course on some, but not all, of those decisions. What is your company’s tolerance for risk in these areas?
Plan Ahead for Union Contract Negotiations. The NLRB has never been a fan of employer assertions that a union waived its right to bargain over certain items as a result of language in a union contract. The NLRB’s trend has been to accentuate that hostility and emphasize the need to consider what happens when the labor agreement expires, and other items that used to be governed by established legal principles. The language of the labor agreement is even more important now.
Keep Your Fingers Crossed (or Whatever You Do for Luck!). The next 12 months could bring a significant amount of change to some of the more problematic issues this blog has covered in the past several years. From the persuader rule to the NLRB’s decisions, the new administration and its appointees could significantly change the trajectory of labor regulation.
There you have it. Good luck and best wishes for a great 2017!