Labor Relations Update
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Steven Porzio

Partner

Steven J. Porzio is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department and a member of the Labor-Management Relations Group. Steve assists both unionized and union-free clients with a full range of labor and employee relations matters. He represents employers in contract negotiations, arbitrations, and representation and unfair labor practice cases before the National Labor Relations Board.

Steve has experience conducting vulnerability assessments and providing management training in union and litigation avoidance, leave management, wage and hour, and hiring and firing practices. He provides strategic and legal advice in certification and decertification elections, union organizing drives, corporate campaigns, picketing and union contract campaigns. Steve has represented employers in a number of different industries, including higher education, health care, construction and manufacturing in successful efforts against unions in election and corporate campaigns.

In addition to his traditional labor law work, Steve assists companies with handbook and personnel policy drafting and review, daily management of employee disciplines and terminations, and general advice and counsel on compliance with federal and state employment laws.

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BREAKING: NLRB General Counsel Issues Memo on Bargaining Obligations Under OSHA’s Vaccination Requirements

On November 10, 2021, General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo issued a memorandum outlining bargaining obligations under OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard to Protect Workers from Coronavirus (“ETS”).  Responding to Inquiries Regarding Bargaining Obligations Under the Department of Labor’s Emergency Temporary Standard to Protect Workers from Coronavirus, GC 22-03 (November 10, 2021). The ETS, which took effect on … Continue Reading

NLRB, DOL, and EEOC Announce Joint Initiative to Combat Worker Retaliation

Today, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), along with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), announced the creation of an interagency initiative to raise awareness of worker retaliation issues. Building upon their pre-existing interagency relationships, the NLRB, DOL, and EEOC seek to further protect workers from unlawful retaliatory … Continue Reading

While Democrats Whittle Down Pro-Labor Provisions Of Social Spending Bill, Civil Penalties Remain

As we discussed here, members of the House Education and Labor Committee have been attempting to end-run the procedural hurdles that have prevented the Protect the Right to Organize Act (“PRO Act”) legislation from becoming law, through a process called “budget reconciliation.”  (For a refresher on the PRO Act, see our blog posts on the … Continue Reading

NYC Enacts Severance Pay Requirements for Displaced Hotel Workers

Effective as of October 5, 2021, Int. 2397-2021 requires operators of “transient hotels” (as defined by Section 12-10 of the New York City zoning resolutions) to pay their employees severance pay if: (1) the hotel closed to the public and has not, by October 11, 2021, recalled at least 25% of the number of employees … Continue Reading

BREAKING: General Counsel Abruzzo Announces that College Athletes Are Employees

Today, General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo issued a very significant memorandum on the status of college athletes as “employees” under the National Labor Relations Act. Statutory Rights of Players at Academic Institutions (Student-Athletes) Under the National Labor Relations Act, GC 21-08 (September 29, 2021). In today’s memorandum, GC Abruzzo reinstates a former GC Memorandum, GC 17-01, … Continue Reading

D.C. Circuit Court Rules NLRB’s Access to Property Test is Arbitrary

General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board, Jennifer Abruzzo, is already on her way to accomplishing one of the objectives she laid out in her recent Advice-Memorandum 21-04 (discussed here earlier on this blog). In the GC’s memo, she identified a number of Board decisions to re-evaluate, including Bexar County Performing Arts Ctr. Found., … Continue Reading

House Committee Attempts to Secure “PRO Act” Changes to Labor Law Through Reconciliation Process of Next Federal Budget

As we have discussed in previous posts (see here and here), the Protect the Right to Organize Act (“PRO Act”), which would drastically and fundamentally change the nature and scope of the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) and labor-management relations in the private sector, has languished in the U.S. House of Representatives over the last … Continue Reading

NLRB General Counsel Abruzzo Encourages Regions to Utilize More Significant Remedies When Resolving Unfair Labor Practices

In keeping with the momentum of her Office, National Labor Relations Board General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo issued a memorandum yesterday to all Regional Offices advising them to request that the Board exercise its broad discretion in fashioning remedies for workers impacted by unfair labor practices, indicating the General Counsel’s intent to impose more onerous penalties … Continue Reading

New NLRB General Counsel Signals Greater Utilization of 10(j) Injunctions

The recently-sworn in General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board, Jennifer Abruzzo, has had a busy month, setting the stage for a slate of new enforcement initiatives.  First, the GC issued Advice Memorandum 21-04 (discussed here last week), identifying numerous Board decisions that are all but certain to be reassessed once the full complement … Continue Reading

Second Circuit Adopts “Contract Coverage” Standard as Governing Standard for Unilateral Changes

The NLRB’s “contract coverage” standard for determining whether a collective bargaining agreement privileges an employer to unilaterally change terms and conditions of employment received support last week from a federal court of appeals, further solidifying the legitimacy of the relatively new standard at a time when the Board is undergoing a change in leadership and … Continue Reading

The NLRB’S Recently Seated General Counsel Plots Entirely New Direction for the Board

Less than a month after being sworn in as the new General Counsel of the NLRB, Jennifer Abruzzo defined a bold new direction for the Board’s enforcement priorities in a memo issued on August 12, 2021.  The memo, Mandatory Submissions to Advice GC Memorandum 21-04 (August 12, 2021), lays out subject matters that NLRB Regions … Continue Reading

BREAKING: Jennifer Abruzzo is Sworn In as General Counsel of the NLRB

After being nominated by President Biden on February 17, 2021, Jennifer Abruzzo was sworn in as General Counsel of the NLRB yesterday by Chairman Lauren McFerran. Abruzzo will serve a four-year term as General Counsel, spearheading the agency’s investigation and prosecution of unfair labor practice cases and supervising the NLRB field offices in the processing … Continue Reading

District Court Approves of President Biden’s Firing of Former NLRB General Counsel, But is This the Final Word?

As we reported here and here, there are several challenges to the authority of the Acting General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board, Peter Sung Ohr, given President Biden’s unprecedented move of terminating the sitting General Counsel, Peter Robb, in January 2021. One recent challenge to the Acting General Counsel’s authority was brought before … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Overturns Board Decision Finding Unlawful Secondary Picketing, Citing Insufficient Evidence of an Intent to Coerce a Neutral Employer

Last week, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit overturned a decision by the NLRB dismissing a complaint against two joint employers alleging unlawful termination in retaliation for picketing activity. The Court, reversing the Board, found that the employees’ picket was not unlawful secondary activity and therefore did not lose the protection … Continue Reading

NLRB Declines to Address Validity of Acting GC’s Appointment, Instead Deferring the Issue to the Courts

On April 30, 2021, in National Association of Broadcast Employees & Technicians, 370 NLRB No. 114 (2021), the Board declined to opine on the validity of President Biden’s termination of former General Counsel Peter Robb and subsequent replacement with Acting General Counsel Peter Sung Ohr.  It now sets the stage for a federal court of … Continue Reading

Biden Administration Announces White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment

On Monday, April 26, 2021, the White House released a press briefing detailing the establishment of a new White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment (the “Task Force”).  The Task Force, which the White House describes as a “whole-of-government” approach to empowering workers to organize and bargain with their employers, will be chaired … Continue Reading

NLRB Upholds Contract-Bar Doctrine in Current Form

On April 21, 2021, the National Labor Relations Board (the “Board”) declined to eliminate or modify its long-standing contract-bar doctrine, which purports to provide stability in the relationship among the employer, a collective bargaining representative, and its employee-members.  The Board previously invited comment on the continued application of the contract-bar doctrine in July 2020. The … Continue Reading

NLRB General Counsel Promises “Vigorous” Enforcement of Employees’ Rights to Engage in Workplace Advocacy Related to Social Issues and Health and Safety Concerns

On March 31, 2021, the NLRB’s Acting General Counsel Peter Ohr issued a Memorandum entitled “Effectuation of the National Labor Relations Act through Vigorous Enforcement of Mutual Aid or Protection and Inherently Concerted Doctrines” to all Regional Directors.  While the Memorandum does not change NLRB precedent in any respect, it is a preview of the … Continue Reading

NLRB Suffers Significant Turnover in Agency Staffing

In a report released on March 29, 2021, the Governmental Accountability Office (“GAO”) announced that between fiscal years 2010 and 2019, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) experienced a 26% decrease in total staff. The most significant reductions taking place in Regional offices which saw a 33% reduction compared to only an 8% reduction at … Continue Reading

BREAKING: NLRB Withdraws Proposed Rule Concerning Employee-Status of Student Teachers and Research Assistants

After publishing the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking over a year ago, followed by tens of thousands of public comments and many months of anticipating the final rule, the NLRB announced today that it will publish a Notice of Withdrawal of the proposed student assistant rule. Under the proposed rule, students at private colleges and universities … Continue Reading

Board Invites Briefing on Potentially Overturning “Johnnie’s Poultry” Standard for Questioning of Employees About Putative Protected Activity

On Monday, the Board voted 3-1 to solicit a public briefing on whether it should overrule the Johnnie’s Poultry Co., 146 NLRB 770 (1964) safeguards employees must receive if they are questioned by employers about their own or another employees’ potentially protected concerted activity. Those safeguards include requiring the following: The employer must communicate to … Continue Reading

Recent Labor Victories for Adjunct Professors Signal Likely Uptick in Contingent Faculty Organizing

Recently, adjunct professors at Elon University and Ithaca College won victories before the NLRB and an American Arbitration Association arbitrator, respectively, that further bolster the position that adjunct, or contingent, faculty members are “employees” as defined by the NLRA.  Moreover, it also suggests that there will likely be a surge of new organizing activity amongst … Continue Reading

NLRB Issues Several Advice Memoranda Providing Guidance on COVID-Related and Other Workplace Issues

On September 15, 2020, the National Labor Relations Board (the “NLRB” or “Board”) Division of Advice (“Advice”), published four Advice Memoranda addressing an array of issues ranging from COVID-19-related unilateral actions to non-work political advocacy and the legality of confidentiality provisions in separation agreements.  The Memoranda were drafted by Advice last month, and join the … Continue Reading
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