With Control of Congress in Play, Obama Administration Accelerates Worker Rights Agenda

August 01, 2014

Several actions over the past two weeks—including a stunning NLRB action against McDonald's and a "blacklisting" executive order—have made it clear that the final two years of the Obama administration will address the dissatisfaction by progressives, employee rights advocates and organized labor that the President has not pursued a strong enough agenda supporting such issues such as "card check," living wage, and expanded employment protections.  The stories below provide more detail, but a clear trend is emerging as the nation heads into the mid-term elections.  This week, President Obama further increased pressures on federal contractors with a new executive order that will make it easier for unions and plaintiffs' attorneys to intimidate companies into agreeing to their demands by holding the potential loss of government contracts over their heads.  NLRB General Counsel Richard Griffin attempted to have the Board consider McDonald's a "joint employer" of its franchisees' employees, a major expansion of the war against the use of independent contractors, subcontractors, and staffing firms.  In addition, the NLRB is expected to close out the year with its final "expedited election rules," accelerating union representation elections to as short as ten days after a union petition.  Further, a union's ability to carve up the workplace into smaller micro-units was confirmed with a ruling against Macy's last week, despite a ruling in the opposite direction this week.  With control of the Senate in play this fall and fundraising efforts in high gear, these efforts will energize the Democratic party base, but they also signal that the next two years may be a tumultuous period for employment policy unlike any since the 1970s.