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WECA Political Update February 4, 2021

Thursday, February 04, 2021

What a Marty Walsh-led Labor Department could mean for construction When Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, a former construction union leader, appears before a Senate committee this morning in the first round of hearings for his nomination as Secretary of Labor, it's likely many in the construction industry will be wondering how he might influence the federal policies and regulations under which they work. AGC and ABC agree that Walsh’s construction experience is a plus when it comes to understanding the needs of the industry. Story

Democrats Reintroduce the PRO Act Today, Senators Murray (D-WA) and Schumer (D-NY) and Representative Scott (D-VA) reintroduced the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. The members released text of the bill, a section-by-section analysis, and a fact sheet. The bill has 194 cosponsors, including two Republicans – Smith (NJ-4) and Fitzpatrick (PA-1). This bill includes over a dozen radical provisions drastically altering federal labor law and will devastate the economy during an already difficult time.

California Publishes User Guide and Templates for Pay Data Reporting SB 973 requires employers that (1) file EEO-1 reports and (2) employ more than 100 employees to submit data to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) annually that shows pay by race and gender for their California employees. It was signed into law on September 30, 2020, and DFEH has been busy providing guidance to employers and preparing the pay data reporting portal. Additional — perhaps final — guidance was released on February 1. DFEH posted FAQs addressing Professional Employer Organizations and Acquisitions, Mergers, and Spinoffs. It also released a 68-page User Guide that discuss the mechanics of data submission and provided templates (both in Excel and CSV format) to assist employers in submitting their required pay data.

Biden chooses Su as Deputy Labor Secretary According to Politico, President Joe Biden has offered Julie Su, who is the Labor and Workforce Development Agency Secretary, the role of US Deputy Labor secretary, and she has accepted. Su was among those initially floated for Labor secretary. But Biden nominated former Boston Building Trades Boss, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, whose confirmation hearing is on Thursday. A graduate of Harvard Law School, Su served as the state’s labor commissioner for about eight years before becoming its labor secretary. Prior to that, she spearheaded litigation at Asian Americans Advancing Justice, a legal aid organization in Los Angeles. The announcement is expected sometime next week, one of the people said. If confirmed, Su would step into the job at a critical point for American labor, with millions of people out of work and a narrowly divided Congress poised to stand in the way of Biden's major legislative initiatives. Still, the Labor Department has the power to enact regulatory changes that can make the workplace safer and empower employees. Su is likely to face questions in her confirmation hearing about her role in an explosive unemployment fraud story plaguing California; she estimated during a press call last week that the state’s unemployment department, which she oversees, had issued at least $11 billion in fraudulent payments last year. Two state audits released last week about the Employment Development Department pointed to a series of “missteps” last spring that opened the door to fraud, including a decision to shut off a stop-payment safeguard in an effort to speed payments. Her selection is likely to somewhat appease Asian American Pacific Island advocates, who lobbied heavily for Su's selection as Labor Secretary and were disappointed when the role went to a white male. The role of deputy Labor secretary takes on outsize importance as Biden looks to resuscitate a limping job market that has seen the pandemic stoke permanent losses and compromise worker safety.

The Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act Proposes Aid to Union Pension Plans. Taxpayers would foot the bill (HR 423) if passed by Congress and signed by Biden. Of the 1,400 MEPS, 125 funds are in “critical and declining” (you can see the plans on the DOLs website) status that are projected to be insolvent within 20 years and some much sooner. Seven plans failed in the past year when they became insolvent or terminated after all the employers withdrew. And up to 12 more plans covering 245,000 participants signaled in filings with the U.S. Department of Labor that they are likely to fail by the end of this year. The plans are sponsored by union locals covering truck drivers, bricklayers and other workers. Story

Newsom will wait to announce California AG until Becerra Confirmed Gov. Gavin Newsom confirmed that he will wait until Attorney General Xavier Becerra is confirmed as President Joe Biden's Health and Human Services secretary before announcing a replacement. "I'm very close to making that decision," Newsom said, but "our current attorney general is still the current attorney general, has not been formally confirmed by the United States Senate, and so the timing of a public announcement will be determined on the basis of that confirmation." But Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank.) wants to be our next attorney general—and he has House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ’s blessing, according to Politico. Schiff, a Harvard Law School graduate and former prosecutor who currently serves as the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has lobbied California Gov. Gavin Newsom to appoint him to the role, those individuals said. Pelosi has been advocating for Schiff’s appointment on his behalf, said people familiar with the matter.

Newsom has called a special election for the 79th Assembly District seat — a safely Democratic San Diego-area seat formerly held by Secretary of State Shirley Weber before she was appointed to her current gig. The primary is set for April 6, with the general election on June 8, 2021 if no one breaks a majority.

Brief Filed in Support of Request for Review in Amazon.com Services CDW filed an amicus brief with the NLRB in support of Amazon’s Request for Review of a Regional Director’s decision dealing with a representation election at an Amazon facility in Alabama. The brief calls on the Board to grant Amazon’s Request for Review and Motion to Stay the election in order to consider the dangers of allowing increased use of electronic voting in union representation elections and provide clarity on when electronic voting will be used moving forward. The brief explains that NLRB precedent strongly favors manual elections, since participation rates in mail-ballot elections are consistently lower than those seen during manual voting. CDW also calls on the NLRB to provide clarity on when the Board and Regional Directors will determine mail-ballot elections are required, including defining what qualifies as a COVID-19 “outbreak.” Finally, CDW cautions the Board against its increased tolerance of electronic voting methods. The statement on the brief can be viewed here.

Rep. Levin Introduced Electronic Voting Legislation Earlier this month, Rep. Levin (D-MI) introduced H.R. 308, which directs the NLRB “to implement a system and procedures to conduct representation elections remotely using an electronic voting system.” It would:

·        allow union organizers to bypass secret ballot elections and coerce workers into supporting unionization;
·        have a negative impact on participation rates in union elections, since electronic voting routinely results in lower participation rates among workers, as compared to in-person voting; and
·        increase fraud and potential identify theft due to the inability to authenticate who potential voters are and lack of cybersecurity protocols.

The bill already has 77 cosponsors, including four Republicans – Fitzpatrick (PA), Bacon (NE), McKinley (WV), and Smith (NJ). CDW’s statement on the bill can be viewed here.

House Republicans Press Biden Admin for an Explanation on Robb Termination On Feb. 2, Reps. Comer (R-KY), Foxx (R-NC), Walberg (R-MI), and Cloud (R-TX) sent a letter to the White House requesting additional information on the administration’s unprecedented decision to fire NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb and his subordinate Alice Stock. The letter questioned if the administration’s decision was influenced by two labor organizations (SEIU and CWA) that pushed the administration on Robb’s termination. The White House has said it will “respond appropriately to the letter” but claimed there was “broad consensus that these individuals were not carrying out the objectives of the NLRB.”

Acting GC Ohr Rescinds Ten Directives On Feb. 1, Acting NLRB General Counsel Peter Ohr rescinded ten guidance memos issued by Trump-era General Counsel Peter Robb. In a memo on the move, Ohr claimed the memos were “inconsistent” with the goal of the NLRA to encourage collective bargaining, were obsolete, or were contrary to Board law. The order included, among other things, policies on unions’ notification requirements to members, unions’ fair-representation obligations, and handbook policies

Timing is Everything CNN reported “In a sign of how contentious things have become, this week an effort by union officials to schedule a ‘vote of no confidence’ against the department’s top three leaders triggered a round of recriminations from officers who criticized the timing of the move, claiming it was inappropriate and overshadowed the memorial services this week for their slain colleague, Brian Sicknick, whose remains lay in honor at the Capitol this week.”

And since all life is not entirely political…

At least 13 Politicians have played in the Super Bowl Super Bowl week is here. So, let’s see, Super Bowl and politics...how can we bring the two together? How about exploring which political figures have ever played in a Super Bowl? Ballotpedia identified 13 people who played in at least one Super Bowl from 1970 to 2010 before running for elected office or serving in government. The first Super Bowl was played in 1967. Of those 13, Lynn Swann of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Alan Page of the Minnesota Vikings made the most Super Bowl appearances with four each. Swann ran for governor of Pennsylvania in 2006, and Page was elected to the Minnesota Supreme Court in 1992, where he served until reaching the court's mandatory retirement age in 2015. These 13 Super Bowl participants ran for office in 11 different states—Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Washington. Of the 13, six are current political figures, including two in the U.S. House—Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio) and Burgess Owens (R-Utah). Eight of the politicians who played in the Super Bowl ran as Republicans, and two ran as Democrats. Three served in offices that were officially nonpartisan. Nine of these 13 Super Bowl players were elected. Three were elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, one to a state Senate district, one to a state supreme court, one to a local court, one to a county council, one to a county commission, and one to a mayoral office. The full list is presented in the chart below.