Today’s News & Commentary — March 4, 2015
The Senate voted yesterday to reverse a new NLRB rule that would shorten the time between a union’s request for representation and the actual union certification vote. According to AP, the new rule, which is set to take effect in April, also provides for the union to receive the email addresses and telephone numbers of workers to facilitate communication prior to the election. The rule is meant to counter widespread reports of interference and unfair tactics used by employers and sometimes outside groups before certification votes actually take place, a period that can sometimes last for months. The White House promised to veto the measure before yesterday’s 53-45 party-line vote in the Senate, and it is unlikely that Republicans have enough votes to override the veto.
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments this morning in King v. Burwell, the latest legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act, according to the LA Times. The suit alleges that under a strict reading of the statute the insurance subsidies that were implemented with the help of the federal government in 37 states are illegal. That would leave intact the plans of only a handful of states that established their own exchanges through the law. If the suit is successful, an estimated 7 million people could lose access to their healthcare coverage under the ACA.
A ruling from an NLRB Regional Director yesterday cleared the path for unionization for adjunct faculty members at Seattle University, according to Inside Higher Ed. The director rejected the university’s argument that a union would not be valid because of the school’s Roman Catholic Jesuit status. The case was the first in a handful that were remanded to local boards following the NLRB’s precedent-setting ruling in Pacific Lutheran University in December 2014, in which the Board found that the adjuncts in question did not have specific religious or managerial duties that should block unionization. Following that decision, the Board remanded several similar cases back to the local boards to be decided in light of the new standard. In related news, the New York Times reports on the continuing effort of Columbia University’s adjuncts to pressure the university to voluntarily bargain with them, following a similar and successful petition at NYU in 2013.