Chris Cimino

NLRB Resurrects Card-Check Under Joy Silk Mills

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August 25 – This morning the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) took another giant leap in further restricting an employer’s right to respond to union organizing.

In their decision in Cemex Construction Materials Pacific, LLC., the board has announced their intention to return to rules applied under a case from the1940’s (Joy Silk Mills Inc., 1949).

In a nutshell, in Cemex, the Board lays out a new framework for determining when employers are required to bargain with unions, a framework the Board intends to apply retroactively:

  • “Under the new framework, when a union requests recognition on the basis that a majority of employees in an appropriate bargaining unit have designated the union as their representative (through signed authorization cards), an employer must either recognize and bargain with the union or promptly file an RM petition seeking an election.”  
  • “However, if an employer who seeks an election commits any unfair labor practice that would require setting aside the election, the petition [for election] will be dismissed, and—rather than re-running the election—the Board will order the employer to recognize and bargain with the union.”

The Cemex decision is consistent with the position this Board has taken since General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo took over as policy-maker at the agency. 

Under her direction, the NLRB’s posture has undergone a tectonic shift – from neutral arbiter of disputes between unions and management, to an agency that is squarely and unabashedly in the corner of organized labor (promoting union membership).

Mark Mix of The National Right to Work Foundation, which represents workers who oppose unionization, said “the card-check process revived by Friday’s ruling is prone to abuse and lacks the protections of secret ballot elections.” He went on to say, “the decision gives a blank check to unions to force workers into their ranks.”  

We agree!  

Stay tuned for more information and in-depth analysis of this and other developments at the NLRB.

Chessboard Authors the 2023 ASHHRA Healthcare Labor Activity Report

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January 11, 2023 – Happy New Year! We are pleased to announce that Chessboard has authored the 2023 ASHHRA Healthcare Labor Activity Report.

The new ASHHRA Healthcare Labor Activity Report is a comprehensive resource for healthcare human resources professionals and provides an accurate and timely analyses of union organizing activity in the healthcare industry, including what leaders need to know now to best prepare for an anticipated rise in healthcare union organizing in 2023.

This report comes with a PowerPoint presentation reflecting report highlights you can use for briefing your board of directors, senior leaders, or mid-level/front-line leaders.

The report and companion PowerPoint are free for ASHHRA members.

Click here to get your copy free for ASHHRA Members!

Seeking Advantage, Unions Blame Hospitals for Staffing Crisis

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January 20, 2021 – The COVID-19 crisis has impacted hospitals like nothing we have ever seen before. What started as a public health crisis has resulted in an unprecedented disruption of the entire healthcare workforce. In fact, the impact is so severe we will likely be dealing with staffing shortages for a significant period going forward – long after COVID subsides.

Unfortunately, our challenges are opportunities for unions like National Nurses United (NNU). The organizing team at NNU understands the addage, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” So NNU leaders are working overtime to forward a false narrative that goes something like this: “Greed, on the part of healthcare leaders, is the real cause of the staffing crisis – not COVID-19.” Below are some examples of how the NNU is forwarding this false narrative:

  • December, 2020: NNU releases “Deadly Shame” videos and a report entitled, Deadly Shame: Addressing the Devaluation of Registered Nurse Labor through Pandemic Equity.
  • December, 2021: NNU releases a report entitled, Protecting Our Front Line: Ending the Shortage of Good Nursing Jobs and the Industry-Created Unsafe Staffing Crisis. 
  • January, 2022: NNU holds a National Day of Action press conference to demand the hospital industry invest in safe staffing, and to demand that President Biden follow through on his campaign promise to protect nurses and prioritize public health.”

From the beginning, NNU leaders have sought to use this crisis to spread the false and misleading narrative that somehow healthcare leaders are responsible for the current staffing crisis and that hospitals are deliberately understaffing patient care units to increase profits.

Yesterday, this narrative made its way into the opinion section of the New York Times in an article and video entitled: We Know the Real Cause of the Crisis in Our Hospitals. It’s Greed. (click here to read article)

Thankfully, the American Hospital Association quickly issued a response to set the record straight (click here to read the AHA response).

NNU leaders are trying to boost membership, dues income, and the political power of their union.

The challenges facing healthcare organizations and employees are real and we should honor and respect those who are on the frontline facing these challenges. At the same time, we should encourage our employees to question the motives of groups like the NNU, who seek to use the pandemic for their own financial and political gain.

Remember, the NNU is not seeking to foster unity – unity is not good for their business model. NNU organizers know that they have a much better chance of organizing thousands of new nurse members if staff nurses and nurse leaders are divided.

Unfortunately, the confusion and stress created by the pandemic has given the NNU a golden opportunity to create that division – and they seem determined not to let that opportunity go to waste.

Nurse unions – like NNU – betray the public trust when they put their own financial and political objectives above what’s really in the best interest of healthcare employees, patients, and communities.

Approval of Labor Unions Increases Slightly to 65%, Holds at 50 Year High

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Updated (09/09/2020)  This morning, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, social unrest, and record high U.S. unemployment, the Gallup organization reported that approval of labor unions increased slightly year-over-year and holds steady at 65%.

In past years, we have noted a demonstrated inverse correlation between the unemployment rate and union approval.  In other words, as unemployment rises, approval of labor unions typically tends to fall.  Not this year!  

According to Gallup, this new data point could be bucking the trend because the American public is focusing on issues other than the economy. 

What are Americans focused on?  Gallup reports that overall satisfaction among Americans remains at historical lows (only 13% of Americans are satisfied with the way things are going). Simply put, public health and larger social issues are the main focus these days – and for good reason. 

A Change in Direction Would be Welcomed by Most Ameircans  

At Chessboard, we monitor and analyze the political landscape from the perspective that changes in political direction typically also result in changes in national labor policy. 

If the November election produces a change in party control within Washington, we will likely return to a regulatory environment that is more supportive of organized labor.  And, in the extreme, we could see passage of pro-labor legislation such as the PRO Act (Protecting the Right to Organize). 

Through it all, we will be here to help you make sense of, prepare for, and respond to any changes in labor policy.  Happy Labor Day!


As COVID-19 Ravages Communities, Unions Seek an Advantage

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Updated (05/25/20) – At this moment, COVID-19 has sickened millions in the U.S.  As the U.S. death toll approaches 100,000, healthcare employees are, understandably, confused and scared; the global pandemic threatens not only public health, but also economic well-being. 
Labor unions like the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and National Nurses United (NNU) are working overtime to exploit COVID-19-related confusion and fear. Unions are not only criticizing healthcare leaders, they are demanding “more” when it comes to compensation, paid time off, and workplace safety.  The SEIU, for example, offers a “toolkit” which includes links for employees to download and customize their own list of COVID-19-related workplace demands.

And, as the crisis evolves for healthcare leaders and staff, four topics take center stage:   1) Personal Protective Equipment (PPE); 2) Expanded Paid Time Off (PTO); 3) “Hazard Pay”; and, 4) Refusal to Work Policies. 

Personal Protective Equipment:  Since mid-March many hospitals have gone beyond CDC guidelines and provided all patient-facing employees with PPE.  Still, confusion abounds. The scarcity of PPE is universal, prompting even the Joint Commission to issue a statement in support of healthcare workers bringing their own PPE from home. 

Expanded Paid Time Off:  Beyond protection for their own health and the health of their families, healthcare employees want to know their employer stands behind them if they get sick or are otherwise impacted by the pandemic (i.e., quarantined, low censused, furloughed, or laid off).  On March 31,the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) announced dramatic safety and pay-protection measures for HCA employees.

Increased Compensation or “Hazard Pay”: The idea of “hazard pay” originated with non-healthcare employers like Amazon, Albertsons, Kroger, Safeway, and Whole Foods who decided to pay employees an additional $2.00 (or more) per hour as a bonus for working during the crisis.  Unions are now demanding increased pay and/or pay protection for healthcare workers (represented and non-represented). 

Refusal to Work:  While many healthcare employers now offer expanded PTO for employees impacted by COVID-19, in most cases, employees must first exhaust opportunities to be redeployed. Hospitals are now dealing with employees who refuse redeployment as well as a surge of complaints filed with local OSHA offices.

As always, we hope you find this information useful – please stay safe!

Gallup Survey Results: Union Approval 64%, Near 50-Year High

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Happy Labor Day! 

The folks at Gallup have published the results of their annual public opinion poll on support for labor unions. 

According to Gallup pollsters, “Sixty-four percent of Americans approve of labor unions, surpassing 60% for the third consecutive year and up 16 percentage points from its 2009 low point.” 

Pointing to the relationship between polling responses and the current unemployment rate, Gallup pollsters also reported that “the current 64% reading is one of the highest union approval ratings Gallup has recorded over the past 50 years, topped only in March 1999 (66%), August 1999 (65%) and August 2003 (65%) surveys.”   

Significantly, according to the most recent Gallup survey, support for unions is:

  • Higher among women (66%) vs. men (61%).
  • Highest among ages 18-34 (67%) vs. ages 35-54 (64%) and 55 + (61%).
  • Higher among college graduates (68%) vs. no college (58%).
  • Much higher among Democrats (82%) vs. Republicans (45%).