Executive Orders affecting Unions issued by the Obama Administration.

posted by Neil Klingshirn  |  Jun 19, 2009 4:17 PM [EST]  |  applies to Ohio

President Barack Obama signed a series of executive orders in his first month in office favorable to organized labor. They include:

Notification of employee rights under federal labor laws

Under Executive Order 13496, federal contractors and their subcontractors must agree to the following terms:

During the term of this contract, the contractor agrees to post a notice, of such size and in such form, and containing such content as the Secretary of Labor shall prescribe, in conspicuous places in and about its plants and offices where employees covered by the National Labor Relations Act engage in activities relating to the performance of the contract, including all places where notices to employees are customarily posted both physically and electronically.  The notice shall include the information contained in the notice published by the Secretary of Labor in the Federal Register (Secretary's Notice).

Economy in Government Contracting

This Executive Order treats as unallowable the costs of any activities undertaken to persuade employees of the recipients of the Federal disbursements or of any other entity to exercise or not to exercise, or concerning the manner of exercising, the right to organize and bargain collectively through representatives of the employees' own choosing.  Unallowable costs must be excluded from any billing, claim, proposal, or disbursement applicable to any such Federal Government contract.

Contracting departments and agencies shall treat as allowable costs incurred in maintaining satisfactory relations between the contractor and its employees, including costs of labor-management committees, employee publications (other than those undertaken to persuade employees to exercise or not to exercise, or concerning the manner of exercising, the right to organize and bargain collectively), and other related activities.  See 48 C.F.R. 31.205-21.

Examples of unallowable costs include the costs of the following activities, when they are undertaken to persuade employees to exercise or not to exercise, or concern the manner of exercising, rights to organize and bargain collectively:

     (a)  preparing and distributing materials;

     (b)  hiring or consulting legal counsel or consultants;

     (c)  holding meetings (including paying the salaries of the attendees at meetings held for this purpose); and

     (d)  planning or conducting activities by managers, supervisors, or union representatives during work hours.

Project Labor Agreements for Federal Construction Projects

A project labor agreement is between the owner or general contractor of a construction project and the union or unions representing crafts that will work on the project.  It is an effective way for unions to organize transitory work forces related to a specific project. Typically, all contractors must become signatories to the project labor agreement, whether they are unionized or not.  The project labor agreement then governs the terms and conditions of employment of the craft employees who will work on the project, for the duration of the project. They typically provide for union wage rates and benefits, grievance and arbitration procedures for resolving disputes under the agreement, and the right of the signatory unions to be the exclusive bargaining representatives of the covered employees.

Project labor agreements are highly favored by unions and are typically criticized and resisted by non-unionized construction contractors. President Clinton authorized their use on federal contracts. President Bush banned them and prohibited discrimination against contractors who refused to sign them.

Executive Order 13502 rescinds President Bush's ban and encourages federal executive agencies to consider the use of project labor agreements on federal construction projects where the total cost to the federal government is $25 million or more. The executive order defines “construction” to include the construction, rehabilitation, alteration, conversion, extension, repair, or improvement of buildings, highways, or other real property.

Executive Order 13502 allows federal contracting agencies to require a project labor agreement when such an agreement would advance federal interests in economy and efficiency, labor stability, and compliance with employment laws. If a federal agency requires a project labor agreement it will include in the bid proposal a requirement that contractors and subcontractors become parties to such an agreement. The executive order specifies that, at a minimum, a project labor agreement on a covered federal construction project must be binding on all contractors and subcontractors on the project, prohibit strikes and lockouts, contain binding dispute-resolution procedures, and provide other mechanisms for labor-management cooperation on such subjects as productivity, safety and health matters, and quality of work. A project labor agreement may not exclude nonunion firms from competing for contracts or subcontracts on the project, but such firms would have to become parties to the project labor agreement if they are awarded a contract or subcontract.

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posted by Neil Klingshirn  |  Jun 19, 2009 4:17 PM [EST]  |  applies to Ohio

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Neil Klingshirn
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