Southeastern Carpenters

News

News

Federal Issues that Affect Carpenters

There are issues that directly affect the future and well-being of organized labor. The SECRC will never tell you how to vote, but we will make sure you have as much information as possible to make an informed decision. Because an informed carpenter is an informed voter. 

Check back here often. We will put the latest headlines at the top of this list…

US Department of Labor Withdraws Independent Contractor Rule

The U.S. Department of Labor today announced the withdrawal – effective May 6 – of the “Independent Contractor Rule,” to maintain workers’ rights to the minimum wage and overtime compensation protections of the Fair Labor Standards ActThe department is withdrawing the rule for several reasons, including:

  • The independent contractor rule was in tension with the FLSA’s text and purpose, as well as relevant judicial precedent.
  • The rule’s prioritization of two “core factors” for determining employee status under the FLSA would have undermined the longstanding balancing approach of the economic realities test and court decisions requiring a review of the totality of the circumstances related to the employment relationship.
  • The rule would have narrowed the facts and considerations comprising the analysis of whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor, resulting in workers losing FLSA protections.

“By withdrawing the Independent Contractor Rule, we will help preserve essential worker rights and stop the erosion of worker protections that would have occurred had the rule gone into effect,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. “Legitimate business owners play an important role in our economy but, too often, workers lose important wage and related protections when employers misclassify them as independent contractors. We remain committed to ensuring that employees are recognized clearly and correctly when they are, in fact, employees so that they receive the protections the Fair Labor Standards Act provides.”

The FLSA includes provisions that require covered employers to pay employees at least the federal minimum wage for every hour they work and overtime compensation at not less than one-and-one-half times their regular rate of pay for every hour they work over 40 in a workweek. FLSA protections do not apply to independent contractors.

In addition to maintaining the scope of workers covered by FLSA wage and hour protections, the department anticipates that the independent contractor rule’s withdrawal will avoid a reduction in workers’ access to employer-provided fringe benefits such as health insurance and retirement plans. The withdrawal will also avoid a reduction in other benefits such as unemployment insurance and workers compensation coverage.

For more information about the FLSA or other laws it enforces, visit the Wage and Hour Division, or call toll-free 1-866-4US-WAGE.


USDOL Recovers More Than $358L in Back Wages for 50 Tennessee Workers - Fifty workers misclassified as independent contractors by an Oliver Springs home health care service provider received a total of $358,675 in back wages to resolve overtime violations found in a U.S. Department of Labor investigation. The department’s Wage and Hour Division determined Servant’s Quest – which provides at-home healthcare services for the ill or elderly – violated Fair Labor Standards Act requirements by failing to pay overtime to caregivers that the employer misclassified as independent contractors rather than employees. The employer then paid the misclassified workers straight-time wages for the hours they worked in excess of 40 in a workweek, under the pretense as independent contractors, overtime rules didn’t apply to these workers. “The misclassification of employees as independent contractors cheats workers out of wages and benefits they are entitled to under the law, hurts other employers who play by the rules, and subsequently hurts our economy,” said Acting Wage and Hour Division District Director Kenneth Stripling in Nashville, Tennessee. “These essential employees worked long hours without receiving overtime compensation. This is illegal and unacceptable, particularly amid a pandemic when they put themselves at risk to help others. The Wage and Hour Division is pursuing corrective action vigorously in those situations when workers are, in fact, employees to ensure that they receive every penny of their hard-earned wages.” For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the division, contact the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, and use its search tool if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division.

The USDOL is on track to limit the number of workers eligible for minimum wage and overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act.  They have proposed a rule that will make it easier for employers to classify employees as independent contractors.  It's a startling document, because it ignores the intent of the FLSA and court precedent. The intent is not so much to clarify the Act as it is to favor the use of independent contractors. Here is a link to the rule: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/09/25/2020-21018/independent-contractor-status-under-the-fair-labor-standards-act. The UBC and affiliates are filing substantive comments opposing the rule.  We need our state attorneys general friends to do the same.  Please contact Democratic attorneys general in your states and urge them to file comments.

AFL-CIO Sues Trump Administration Over Union Elections Rule: (Bloomberg Law) The world’s largest labor group is suing to try to block a Trump administration rule likely to make it harder for unions to organize. The AFL-CIO on Friday asked a federal district court in Washington, D.C. to shoot down a new National Labor Relations Board regulation that would revise the union election process. The rule, slated to take effect April 16, is expected to slow down union elections at private workplaces by giving employers more power to oppose the contests on legal grounds before workers go to the ballot box and after the votes are cast. (https://news.bloomberglaw.com/daily-labor-report/afl-cio-sues-trump-administration-over-union-elections-rule)

Trump Gives Defense Department Power To Abolish Bargaining For Civilian Unions: (Huffington Post) President Donald Trump - invoking a national security concern - gave the Defense Department the authority to abolish the collective bargaining rights of its civilian labor unions. Gutting the unions would provide “maximum flexibility,” Trump wrote in a memo published Thursday. Read the whole story from the Huffington Post: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/collective-bargaining-union-trump-defense-department_n_5e4f5f21c5b6b82aa650a857, Here’s the memo from the Oval office: https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2020-03578.pdf.

Trump has attacked federal unions. Now, for the first time, he’s trying to bust one: (Washington Post) President Trump is escalating his attacks on federal unions to a new level. For the first time, the Trump administration is seeking to bust a union, the National Association of Immigration Judges, by declaring that its members are managers ineligible for labor organization membership. It’s tantamount to decertification. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-has-attacked-federal-unions-now-for-the-first-time-hes-trying-to-bust-one/2020/01/17/3426d8ea-3971-11ea-a01d-b7cc8ec1a85d_story.html)

Depart of Labor Budget May Take a Big Hit: The 2021 U.S. Government budget directly affects the Department of Labor. The DOL requests 10.5 percent LESS funding than what was granted in 2020 budget. This includes a reduction in the program integrity cap adjustment. Look for yourself. Here’s the DOL’s budget: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/BUDGET-2021-BUD/pdf/BUDGET-2021-BUD-17.pdf. and here’s the Budget of the U.S. Government, Fiscal Year 2021 [10 February 2020]: https://www.govinfo.gov/features/budget-fy2021

As Trump Courts Unions, His Apprentice Plan Risks Alienating Them: (Wall Street Journal) Construction workers oppose a strategy the administration is considering to expand apprenticeships to employers and business groups (https://www.wsj.com/articles/as-trump-courts-unions-his-apprentice-plan-risks-alienating-them-11574946001)

Trump administration tells agencies to restrict unions in the workplace: (Washington Post) Federal agencies have been told to carry out Trump administration directives aimed at restricting the role of unions in the federal workplace and giving agencies the maximum discretion in taking disciplinary actions against employees, now that a court ban against many of those policies has been lifted. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-administration-tells-agencies-to-restrict-unions-in-the-workplace/2019/10/07/39a0b3e8-e928-11e9-85c0-85a098e47b37_story.html)

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