November 4, 2011
October Employment Data
The Daprtment of Labor released its October employment report today, which seems to continue a pattern of mediocre jobs reports. The net gain in jobs was 80,000 and the unemployment rate went down 0.1 percent to 9%. Thisis basically whats needed to keep up with population gains, so is comparable to treading water (which is obviously better than drowning). On the bright side, revisions of the last few reports show substantial increases in the number of new jobs, so perhaps things are a bit better than they seem.
Among the other figures released is that the average time of unemployment is 39.4 weeks (down a little from last month's record 40.5 weeks), all government jobs have lost a net of 323,000 positions over the last year, hourly earnings rose by 0.3% (5 cents) over last month, and the average number of hours worked per week remained steady at 34.3 hours.
Call for Papers: China Labor Market
Sam Estreicher of New York University School of Law, the NYU Center for Labor and Employment Law and the U.S.-Asia Law Institute at NYU announce a Call for Papers in connection with a Research Conference on the China Labor Market, to be held at NYU School of Law on May 11 and 12, 2012.
Crain a Deanship Finalist at W&L
November 3, 2011
NBA Union To Decertify?
The NBA negotiations have certainly been interesting. Now the latest news suggests that a group of 50 players could seek a decertification election if the union doesn't reach a deal soon with the NBA, or reaches a deal that gives away too much. And we're not talking about an NFL-style decert that is arguably more of a means to add antitrust pressure than anything else. Given that the NBA players have talked to an antitrust attorney, that strategy is obviously appealing to them; however, there also seems to be a genuine unhappiness with the union's negotiations. In other words, if successful (and that's still a really big if), this decertification doesn't look to be the type that will quickly be erased once a deal is reached.
In the short term, it remains to be seen what effect this news will have on negotiations. It would seem to limit the union's flexibility in negotiations if they take the decertification risk seriously. On the other hand, the NBA could be hurt by decertification, so this handcuffing could actually strengthen the union's position (think about how the debt ceiling debates and how the Tea Party Republicans hard line gave the Republican leadership leverage).
ABA LEL Section Meeting in Seattle
Thanks to Bill Herbert for reminding me to post on the ABA LEL Section Conference (which I am attending) in Seattle. There's an impressive array of panels, and too many academics presenting for me to possibly list. There are more than 1300 LEL attorneys here, including a who's who list of the various LEL-related federal agencies.
Onwuachi-Willig in Minority 40 under 40
Congratulations to Angela Onwuachi-Willig (Iowa). She was named by the National Law Journal as one of the 40 minority lawyers under 40 and profiled in a special report. Angela is also being appointed to a named chair later this month. She will become the Charles and Marion Kierscht Professor of Law at Iowa.
Amazing and well deserved honors!
November 2, 2011
OSHA Seeks Public Comment on SOX Whistleblower Procedures
From the Department of Labor:
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration will publish interim final rules in the Nov. 3 Federal Register that revise the regulations governing whistleblower complaints filed under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. The act protects employees of publicly traded companies and their subsidiaries, and of certain other employers, from retaliation for reporting mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, securities fraud, violations of SEC rules or regulations, or violations of any provision of federal law relating to fraud against shareholders. OSHA is requesting public comment on the interim final rule.
"Fraudulent practices by publicly held corporations have contributed to the economic difficulties currently facing our nation," said OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels. "The best way to prevent this from happening in the future is to ensure that workers feel free to blow the whistle on corrupt corporate practices without fear of retaliation, and OSHA is committed to protecting the rights of those workers to speak out."
The whistleblower protection provisions of SOX were amended by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 to clarify that subsidiaries of publicly traded companies are covered employers under the statute, and to add nationally recognized statistical rating organizations as covered employers. The 2010 amendments to SOX also extended the statute of limitations for filing a complaint from 90 to 180 days, among other changes. The new interim final rules implement these changes and aim to improve OSHA's procedures for handling complaints under SOX.
Among the changes to improve the complaint filing process, the revised rules will allow SOX complainants to file complaints orally and in any language, and enhance the sharing of information between parties throughout the investigation.
"The ability of workers to speak out and exercise their legal rights without fear of retaliation is crucial to many of the legal protections and safeguards that all Americans value," said Dr. Michaels. "In a continuing effort to improve the Whistleblower Protection Program and make the filing process easier, the rules have been updated to reflect the changes required by the statute."
The interim final rule can be viewed at http://s.dol.gov/JN. Comments, which must be received by Jan. 3, 2012, may be submitted electronically via the federal e-rulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov, or by mail or fax. Faxed submissions, including attachments, must not exceed 10 pages and should be sent to the OSHA Docket Office at 202-693-1648. Comments submitted by mail should be addressed to the OSHA Docket Office, Docket No. OSHA-2011-0126, U.S. Department of Labor, Room N-2625, 200 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20210.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and 20 other statutes protecting employees who report reasonably perceived violations of various workplace, commercial motor vehicle, airline, nuclear, pipeline, environmental, railroad, public transportation, maritime, consumer product, health care reform, corporate securities, food safety and consumer financial reform regulations. Additional information is available at http://www.whistleblowers.gov.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
November 1, 2011
Labor Law Roundup
- The NLRB recently lost a decision in the First Circuit involving a Detroit Edison-like case involving a union's right to information. The court vacated with the Board's conclusion that the employer (USPS) improperly refused to release employees aptitude test scores, holding that the Board failed to adequately balance the union's need for information against the privacy interests at stake.
- Neal Katyal, the former acting Solicitor General for Obama, is listed as an attorney in the upcoming Supreme Court union fee case (Knox). The interesting part? He's representing the plaintiffs, along with counsel of record, James Young of the NRTW-LDF.
- In Allied Mech., the NLRB (2-1) concluded that an employer violated 8(a)(1) by pursuing a lawsuit against a union. This may be the first such conclusion since BE&K (please correct me if that's wrong). Also of note--this case is an old one: it was tried in 2000.
- A recent tibdit from the NBA negotiations: Miami Heat's owner was fined a half-million dollars (yeah, you read that right) for his Twitter response to a fan that accused him and other owners of being greedy and ruining basketball. His offense was saying "you barking at the wrong owner). According to the commissioner, the fine--far more than that levied against similar public statements--was due in large part to the sensitive timing during the current negotiations. Just shows the importance of solidarity for each sides, something that this article notes may be a problem for the union as well.
Hat TIp: Jason Walta, Dennis Walsh
October 31, 2011
UNLV to Host 8th Annual Colloquium on Labor and Employment Law; Update on 7th Annual Colloquium
I am happy to anounce that the UNLV Boyd School of Law has been unanimously selected to be the host of the 8th Annual Colloquium on Labor and Employment Law in Fall 2013. Ann McGinley, Ruben Garcia, and their colleagues will be organizing the conference.
In the meantime, the 7th Annual Colloquium will be in Chicago on Friday, September 14, and Saturday, September 15, 2012, at Loyola Chicago and Northwestern law schools. Friday's program will be held at Loyola with Northwestern taking over on Saturday. There will be breakfast and lunch both days and a dinner on Friday night. More announcements will be made, but in the meantime, mark your calendars!