Press Releases | Unions and Labor Standards

News from EPI President Trump’s NLRB has systematically eroded workers’ rights

In a new report, EPI Senior Fellow (and former General Counsel of the AFL-CIO) Lynn Rhinehart, EPI’s Director of Government Affairs Celine McNicholas, and EPI Policy Associate Margaret Poydock analyze the actions that the Trump administration’s National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has taken to significantly weaken worker protections under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

The authors explain that the Trump NLRB has not only issued significant decisions that hurt working people, but has also embarked in an unprecedented number of rulemakings aimed at overturning existing precedent that protects workers.

The report also notes that the Trump NLRB has faithfully acted on 10 out of 10 items proposed by the Chamber of Commerce as a corporate action wish list in 2017, and has gone beyond the Chamber’s wish list to advance additional measures that give employers more power, while stripping away workers’ rights.

“This report is a valuable compendium of the actions taken by the Board and the agency’s General Counsel over the last two years. Every policy choice they have made creates obstacles to union representation, impedes collective bargaining, or otherwise favors employer interests. It is inconceivable under this statute that the answer could always be the same,” said former NLRB Chair and EPI board member Wilma Liebman. “Viewed together, these decisions—issued at breakneck speed, without public input, and often without any party seeking to upset long settled precedent—reveal an intent to defy the law, its values, and its goals.”

Examples of harmful actions the Trump NLRB has taken or proposed include:

  • Undermining collective bargaining rights by giving employers more power to make unilateral changes without consulting with the union, gerrymandering bargaining units to undermine organizing drives, and withdrawing recognition from existing unions
  • Stripping tens of thousands of student workers and Uber drivers of their right to organize under the NLRA
  • Narrowing the definition of “joint employer”— which makes it harder for temporary and contract workers to bargain with the firms that control their wages and working conditions
  • Giving employers more power to prevent workers and union organizers from organizing and protesting on the employer’s property, even when employers let other groups on their property to solicit

“The Trump NLRB has systematically rolled back workers’ right under the NLRA and they show no sign of slowing down,” said Rhinehart. “Congress has a responsibility to hold the NLRB accountable for their actions, and policymakers should pass legislation to restore and strengthen workers’ rights to organize and collectively bargain.”

The authors also explain that the NLRB has undergone several operational and structural reforms under the Trump administration. Despite an increase or workers joining the private-sector workforce, the administration has proposed reducing the budget by 11% for FY 2020 and reducing staffing levels of the agency.

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