NLRB Smacks Down
Organizing Rights of Temps
January/February 2005 IBEW Journal
majority on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB),
in a November 19 ruling, gutted the rights of the nations
expanding temporary work force to organize into unions.
In a 3-2 decision, the board
overturned the four-year, Clinton-era precedent set in
the M.B. Sturgis case, which allowed temporary workers
supplied by staffing firms the right to form a combined
union with full-time employees of the company.
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney
denounced the boards action, stating, "Despite frequent
rhetoric from the current administration about meeting
the challenges of the 21st century," the Bush board
has "reversed a decision that was designed in part
to recognize changing employment patterns and remove an
arbitrary barrier to organizing among temporary workers."
The board dismissed a petition
by Service Employees International Union (SEIU) District
1199 seeking to represent employees at Oakwood Care Nursing
Home in Oakdale, N.Y. The nursing home and N&W Agency
Inc. jointly determined the agency workers pay and benefits.
Oakwood supervises them, and they work side by side with
workers employed solely by the nursing home.
The dissenting members of
the board, William Liebman and Dennis Walsh, both Democrats,
accused the majority of "accelerating the expansion
of a permanent underclass of workers" and charged
that the "resultwhich exalts business flexibility
at the complete expense of employee rightsis the opposite
of what Congress intended."
Kate L. Bronfenbrenner,
director of labor education research at Cornell University
in Ithaca, N.Y. told The Washington Post, "Its a
very big deal...Sturgis said you cant put a temp label
on someone to avoid unionizing. Now, by overturning Sturgis,
they are giving employers another incentive to disenfranchise
IBEW President Edwin D.
Hill condemned the boards action, stating, "The Republicans
talked a blue streak about their moral values during
the 2004 campaign. Where is the morality in giving a hammer
to employers to beat down the rights of the largest growing
section of the U.S. work force?"
This past summer the NLRB,
also along partisan lines, voted to deny university teaching
and research assistants the protections of the National
Labor Relations Act, which include the right to form unions,
and also restricted rights of workers with disabilities