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New union threat: NLRB makes it easier for temps to join

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

If you thought contracting for temporary and contingent workers would save you headaches, you may be reaching for the aspirin again.

Temps used to need permission from both the temp agency and the employer before being allowed to join a bargaining unit. This rarely happened. But a recent National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling threw out that requirement, making it easier for temps to join the same union as the company's permanent staff.

The NLRB said temps will be eligible to join existing unions if they do the same work alongside full-time employees and work under the same supervision. Under the ruling, both the supplier and employer would take part in the bargaining, depending upon the terms and conditions that they control. Biggest impact: companies with temps on long-term jobs. (M.B. Sturgis Inc., 331 NLRB No. 173, 2000)

Advice: If you have an organized work force, be aware when contracting for temporary labor that those workers may very well be entitled to the same wages and benefits as union employees. Under the NLRB's new rule, a union may file a petition with the regional director's office seeking to add temps to the bargaining unit, even without an election.

You can read the text of the decision (#331-173) at www.nlrb.gov/slip331.html.

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