New interpretation of OSHA regulation could allow unions easier access to non-union shops
By Bill McMorris
May 10, 2013
The Department of Labor’s workplace safety watchdog has quietly crafted a legal interpretation of a longstanding rule that will allow labors representatives into non-union shops.
The department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a February guidance letter made public in April saying that labor union officials could participate in safety inspections at the request of an employee even if the employer is non-union.
“A person affiliated with a union without a collective bargaining agreement or with a community representative can act on behalf of employees as a walkaround representative so long as the individual has been authorized by the employees to serve as their representative,” wrote OSHA Deputy Assistant Secretary Richard E. Fairfax.
OSHA conducts thousands of inspections on workplaces across the country every year, focusing particularly on the manufacturing sector. Employees are entitled to select an observer to accompany OSHA investigators on the inspections.
While union shops often select stewards to represent them, non-union workers select an employee to join the “walkaround.” The new OSHA interpretation would allow outside parties, such as union representatives, to enter the workplace for the first time.
By Kevin Bogardus - 04/17/12
A federal court on Tuesday blocked the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) from issuing a rule that would require employers to post notices explaining workers’ collective bargaining rights.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ordered that an emergency injunction on the rule be granted, pending appeal. The poster rule was set to go into effect on April 30, but will now be delayed until the appeal is decided.
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace asked for the injunction after U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson dismissed their legal challenge last month.
“The facts in this case and the law have always been on the side of manufacturers, and we believe that granting an injunction is the appropriate course of action for the court. The ‘posting requirement’ is an unprecedented attempt by the board to assert power and authority it does not possess,” said Jay Timmons, NAM’s president and CEO, in a statement.