Unions brace for pro-business shift in labor policy under Trump

Wed Nov 9, 2016 5:00pm EST
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By Timothy Aeppel and Daniel Wiessner

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Unions in the United States face sweeping changes to labor law and regulations under a new Republican administration that is expected to tilt policy toward employers.

Republicans will take control of the presidency and both chambers of Congress in Tuesday’s elections, after unions failed to deliver key industrial states to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

Clinton's loss could have wide-ranging consequences for unions. Donald Trump and a Republican-led Senate will likely pick the next justice for the Supreme Court, which often hears labor-related cases.

”I think it’s going to be a very difficult period,” said Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, who said he was surprised by the election outcome despite knocking on doors and talking to members in several states.

Among his concerns, he listed a Supreme Court case this year in which public-sector unions scored a victory related to funding organized labor – but only because the court deadlocked 4-4. The appointment of a new conservative judge by Trump to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia could change that.

Republican nominees will control the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which under Democratic President Barack Obama has sought to make it easier for unions to organize. The NLRB is pursuing litigation to establish that McDonald's Corp is a "joint employer" of workers at its franchised restaurants, a determination that could compel the company to bargain with unions representing employees of its independent franchisees.

Republicans will control federal agencies that govern the formation of unions, overtime rules and more.

For example, in September the Obama administration finalized an executive order requiring federal contractors to provide sick leave to workers, as well as rules expanding the types of data employers are required to provide on pay. A separate Labor Department rule expanding which employees are eligible for overtime pay is scheduled to take effect next month.   Continued...

A United Auto Workers union member wears a shirt with 'UAW United We Stand' on it during a ceremony where members of UAW Local 600 unfurled a banner to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the historic "Battle of the OverPass" in Dearborn, Michigan, U.S. May 25, 2012.  REUTERS/Rebecca Cook/File Photo