Redefining Workers out of a Job National Labor Relations Board’s New Joint Employer Standard Expands Liability, Eliminates Jobs

Federal agencies should be cautious when overturning established policies. Doing so creates uncertainty and frequently generates unintended consequences. Yet under the Obama administration, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has been unrelenting in tossing aside longstanding policy, while displaying indifference to unforeseen negative outcomes, to favor organized labor, a key administration ally. One policy area the federal labor agency has turned on its head is joint employment—when two employers in a contractual relationship assume joint liability over certain employees. the recent NLRB decision that created the new joint employer standard does not address all the potential circumstances in which two or more firms could be considered a joint employer. The NLRB’s new joint employer standard, along with another recent Board decision overturning precedent, gives organized labor the ability to gain new members—and collect more dues—without having to organize each individual workplace. Worse, it creates the possibility of unions organizing workers without allowing them a say in the matter, simply because their employer is conducting business with a unionized firm.

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