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: 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

Senate Confirms Pair of Appointees to National Labor Relations Board

In a package deal, the U.S. Senate confirmed the appointments of two members to the National Labor Relations Board (“Board” or “NLRB”).  Lauren McFerran, who previously served as a member of the NLRB for five years until her term expired on December 16, 2019, will rejoin the current Board as its only Democrat.  Current Republican … Continue Reading

National Labor Relations Board Announces Another Proposed Rule Regarding Representation Elections

On Tuesday, July 28, 2020 the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB or “the Board”) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the National Federal Register. With its latest foray into rulemaking, the Board is looking to make two amendments to the current rules governing representation elections held under the National Labor Relations Act.  Both these … Continue Reading

Update: NLRB Final Rule Governing Employee-Status of Student Workers May Issue As Soon As September 2020

As we previously reported, the NLRB published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in September 2019 regarding the employee-status of student workers at private colleges and universities. Under the proposed rule, the NLRB seeks to establish that undergraduate and graduate students performing services for compensation, including teaching and research, in connection with their studies are … Continue Reading

NLRB GC Issues Guidance Memo Laying Out Changes to Evidence Collection in Unfair Labor Practice Investigations

NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb issued a Memorandum on June 17th setting forth new guidelines for how Regions conduct unfair labor practice investigations—specifically, how Regions secure the testimony of former supervisors and agents, as well as how to handle audio recordings.  The stated goal of the Memo is to “promote transparency and apply fairness” during … Continue Reading

Update: Despite Order Striking Down Portions of NLRB Rulemaking on Representation Election Procedures, NLRB Implements Rules Unaffected by Order

On Sunday, we reported on an eleventh-hour district court order striking down large portions of the NLRB’s new representation election rules that were set to go into effect on May 31, 2020. The district court order held certain portions of the rule were unlawful because they failed to follow proper notice-and-comment rulemaking as required for … Continue Reading

NLRB Issues its Final Rule for its New Joint Employer Standard

This morning the National Labor Relations Board (the “Board”) unveiled the final rule setting forth the new legal test it will apply in analyzing whether affiliated businesses are “joint employers”. The final rule, which will be effective on April 27, 2020, can be found here. Background On September 13, 2018 the Board published its proposed … Continue Reading

NLRB Eliminates Many “Quickie” Election Rule Components

The National Labor Relations Board issued a new rule on Friday that will significantly amend NLRB election rules and procedures.  Expected to take effect on April 16, 2020, the new rules, in large part, reverse course from the “quickie” election rules of 2014, and restore reasonableness to election procedures. Key provisions from the Board’s new … Continue Reading

NLRB Proposes Rule to Settle Once and For All: Student Teaching and Research Assistants Are Not “Employees”

As anticipated, today the National Labor Relations Board published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) proposing a regulation which would establish that students at private colleges and universities who perform any services related to their studies for compensation, including teaching and research, are not “employees” within the meaning of Section 2(3) of the National Labor … Continue Reading

NLRB Tips Scales in Favor of Employers When Drawing Distinctions Between Claims of “Inability to Pay” Versus “Competitive Disadvantage,” and “Surface” Versus “Hard” Bargaining

In recent weeks, the National Labor Relations Board has issued several employer-friendly decisions, and its September 13 decision in Arlington Metals Corp., 368 NLRB No. 74 (2019) was no exception. In Arlington Metals, the Board considered: (1) whether an employer’s statements during bargaining in response to a union’s economic proposals amounted to an asserted “inability … Continue Reading

NLRB Issues “Epic” Decision Concerning the Intersection of Mandatory Arbitration Agreements and NLRA Section 7 Rights

On August 14, 2019, the NLRB issued its first decision addressing employer conduct related to mandatory arbitration agreements and Section 7 activity since the Supreme Court decided Epic Systems Corp v. Lewis, 584 U.S. __, 138 S.Ct. 1612 (2018).  In Epic Systems (discussed more fully here), the Supreme Court held that agreements between employers and … Continue Reading

NLRB Finds Employer Lawfully Terminated “Known” Union Supporter Despite Finding Its Justification Was Pretextual

In a 2-1 decision issued on August 2, 2019, the National Labor Relations Board (the “Board”) in Electrolux Home Products, Inc., 368 NLRB No. 34 (2019) reversed an Administrative Law Judge’s (“ALJ”) decision, and held that Electrolux’s discharge of a “known” union supporter employee did not violate the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA” or “Act”), … Continue Reading
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