A once-cozy relationship between unions and OSHA under the Obama administration has cooled –at least for now. Continuing its promise to roll back OSHA rules influenced by the Obama administration, the Trump administration has leveraged OSHA to withdraw one of its so-called pro-union rules.
Under current federal law, the OSHA allows worker representatives to accompany compliance inspections. The law allows the employer’s workers to hear direct comments and questions from federal inspectors without receiving the information through the filter of management.
As of 2013, however, OSHA had been allowing third party representatives who did not work for the employer to accompany inspections by the agency, which OSHA referred to as “The Walk Around Rule.”
The business community and republican lawmakers objected to OSHA’s 2013 Walk Around Rule, arguing the intent was to open previously difficult-to-access workplaces to union representatives, providing unions a potentially powerful tool for organizing non-union shops.
Under pressure of lawsuit from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), who accused OSHA of exceeding its rule-making authority, the agency acquiesced. OSHA published a memo on April 25 of this year replacing the original 2013 letter, which was referred to by the agency in the memo as “unnecessary.”
The business community and the Trump administration agree the rule promulgated by the Obama administration was part of an ongoing agenda to support and expand union representation to nonunion workplaces.
Mark, Kittaka, a partner with Barnes & Thornburg L.L.P based in Columbus, Ohio said, “It was just a strange situation where it seemed like OSHA was crossing over into the realm of (the National Labor Relations Board) to say who was the employee representative when there hasn’t been an election, when there hasn’t been any determination or recognition by the employer. That’s why it was pretty controversial.”
“With the withdrawal of the walk-around rule, the rule of law has been affirmed,” said Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Damien Schiff. “This agenda-driven, union-promoting mandate was imposed not through an orderly process of broad-based deliberations and public input, but by one official’s arbitrary fiat.”
Source: Safety First Consulting