The 113th Congress hit the ground running by introducing – and reintroducing – various labor- and employment-related bills during its first week in session. It is expected that over the next few months new and returning members of the House of Representatives and Senate will inundate their chambers with measures they hope to see signed into law. While many of these bills will inevitably fail to advance, this blog will periodically provide a brief roundup of the most interesting or controversial measures introduced over the course of the legislative term. Because the House of Representatives is still controlled by Republicans and the Senate by Democrats, the most divisive bills have little chance of advancing. The following measures were introduced during the first week of January 2013:
The Labor Relations First Contract Negotiations Act of 2013 (H.R. 169), introduced by Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) on Jan. 4, 2013, would require employers and union representatives to submit to mediation and ultimately binding arbitration if they fail to agree on the terms of a first contract. Specifically, if the parties have not signed a collective bargaining agreement within 60 days of certification of the union as the employees’ bargaining representative, the bill would direct them to jointly select a mediator to assist in the process. If an initial contract is not negotiated within 30 days after the selection of the mediator, either party would have the option of transferring the matter to the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) for binding arbitration.
That same day Rep. Tim Griffin (R-AR) introduced the Employee Paycheck Protection Act (H.R. 175), a bill that builds upon the recent U.S. Supreme Court case Knox et al. v. Service Employees International Union, in which the Court held that non-member employees represented by a public-sector union cannot be compelled to fund the union’s political and social speech without proper notice. The Employee Paycheck Protection Act specifically requires unions to provide notices, commonly referred to as “Hudson” notices, to all employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement explaining how the fees are apportioned. The bill includes the following provisions:
(a) Notice Required- Prior to imposing or collecting any dues or fees from its members or from any other employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement, or increasing any such dues or fees, a labor organization shall provide all employees covered by the collective bargaining agreement with a written notice explaining how the labor organization calculated the share of such dues or fees that are for non-political costs related to collective bargaining.
(b) Affirmative Consent Required From Non-Union Employees- A labor organization may not exact any funds for dues or fees from any employee covered by a collective bargaining agreement who is not a member of the labor organization without the affirmative consent of such employee.
Both of these bills have been referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
Another bill Rep. Green introduced during the first week of 2013 would direct the Labor Secretary to greatly expand its employer occupational injury and illness reporting requirements under the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act. This measure, H.R. 170, would require site-controlling employers to maintain a log of all recordable injuries and illnesses suffered by all workers at the site, including contractors, temporary, and leased workers. The bill defines “site-controlling employer” as “the employer that has primary control over the work on a particular work site and supervises the employees on a day-to-day basis on a particular work site.” This legislation has similarly been referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, where it will likely stay.