HR Management Compliance

Employers Can Count on Professional-Union Agenda Below New DOL Chief


President-elect Joe Biden’s choose for secretary of the U.S. Division of Labor (DOL) is a standard Democrat more likely to push a pro-union agenda and a frontrunner who might be keen to place in place pandemic-related security measures, in accordance with attorneys who advise employers.


On January 7, Biden introduced that Marty Walsh, at present serving a second time period as mayor of Boston, Massachusetts, is his choose for Labor secretary. Walsh has an extended historical past of union membership and management, and he served as head of Boston’s Constructing and Development Trades Council from 2011-13.

“By way of his outlook, he’s a reasonably conventional Democrat,” Timothy F. Murphy, an legal professional with Skoler, Abbott & Presser, P.C., in Springfield, Massachusetts, says, including he expects a Walsh DOL to behave equally to the Obama administration’s division.

“Labor goes to have his ear, however he was not fully deaf to employers as mayor of Boston,” Murphy says, noting he labored to streamline and facilitate growth within the metropolis.

What to Count on

Murphy expects a worker-friendly agenda beneath Walsh. Biden has mentioned his first precedence might be addressing the pandemic, and because the Occupational Security and Well being Administration (OSHA) is a part of the DOL, he’ll anticipate safety-related regulatory modifications associated to the pandemic. Murphy says OSHA inspections have been down, however they’re more likely to be stepped up beneath a Walsh-led DOL.

Murphy factors out Biden is also taken with strengthening employees’ rights and is predicted to freeze some Trump-era laws which were finalized however not but gone into impact, together with the independent contractor rule introduced January 6. Murphy expects Walsh to be concerned in unwinding that rule and different Trump-era laws.

Burton J. Fishman, an legal professional with FortneyScott in Washington, D.C., says Walsh’s prounion agenda will face challenges since most main laws takes greater than a easy majority within the Senate, which can have 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans within the new administration. Democrats can have solely a slight benefit since Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, as president of the Senate, will function a tiebreaker.

Fishman says the 50-50 break up within the Senate presents a problem for laws Biden helps, such because the Defending the Proper to Manage (PRO) Act.

The Republican-dominated Nationwide Labor Relations Board (NLRB) presents one other problem for the brand new administration, Fishman says, including Walsh is against NLRB Normal Counsel Peter Robb, whose time period doesn’t expire till November 2021. Some information studies point out there could also be stress to oust Robb earlier than his time period ends.

Fishman says he expects emergency guidelines to interchange pandemic-related steering very quickly in addition to the freezing of the brand new impartial contractor rule and a overview of the joint employer regulation. He additionally expects the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division to be lively in issuing opinion letters.

Outlook for Affirmation

Fishman expects Walsh’s nomination to be confirmed. Murphy says he could face at the very least some opposition since some Democrats who lean conservative could also be troubled by his background.

Tammy Binford writes and edits information alerts and publication articles on labor and employment legislation subjects for BLR internet and print publications.

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