By Sahid Fawaz
President Donald Trump's administration has labor in its sights once again.
"Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta is in the midst of reviewing the legal status of alternative worker organizing centers that business groups want to see classified as unions, he told lawmakers Nov. 15.
At a House committee hearing in which Acosta otherwise repeated previous statements on apprenticeship, overtime pay, and fiduciary advice for retirement savers, the secretary’s remarks on worker centers provided a glimpse into how his department may revise its interpretation of laws governing union financial disclosures.
'What can we do to work to define' worker centers under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act to 'show people that they’re just a front for labor unions?,' Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fla.) asked Acosta, during an oversight hearing before the House Education and the Workforce Committee.
'It’s something that we’re looking at, and I’m happy to follow up with your office,' Acosta replied, after noting that he was asked a similar question during a recent meeting.
Conservative think tanks and lobby groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have advocated for organizations like the Fight for $15, OUR Walmart, and Restaurant Opportunities Centers United to be classified as traditional labor organizations subject to the same financial disclosure rules as unions. Among those who have previously urged the DOL to focus on this review is Nathan Mehrens, who is now the department’s acting assistant secretary for policy.
Worker centers have gained increasing clout and relevance in recent years. They’ve served as new mechanisms to give workers a voice on the job, particularly in the service and retail sectors where unions say federal labor law has been interpreted in a way that makes it difficult for workers to organize."
For the full story, check out the entire piece at Bloomberg BNA here.