Employment Law

Review the major labor laws of the 20th century in this week’s readings (Please see below). Identify one law that should be revised to better support the dynamics of the 21st-century management/union relationship. What changes would you make to this law? Why are these important?
It should be 1 page APA formatting. Please include three scholarly resources.
Module Introduction
Chapter 3 in Labor Relations: Development, Structure, Process
Devinatz, V. (2011). The continuing controversy over right-to-work laws in the early twenty-first century. Employee Responsibilities & Rights Journal, 23(4), 287-293. doi:10.1007/s10672-011-9185-z
Fine, J. (2014). Strengthening labor standards compliance through co-production of enforcement. New Labor Forum, 23(2), 76-83.doi:10.1177/1095796014527260
Chapter 3 PPT


For Your Success
The regulatory response of government has moved over time from a focus on regulation of process to one of defining minimal substantive standards. For example, the original form of the Wagner Act did not define what outcomes could or could not be reached through collective bargaining. However, Taft-Hartley allowed individual states to block union shop clauses in labor contracts, Landrum-Griffin set standards for certain kinds of conduct by both labor unions and employers, and the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) authorized a body of very specific federal standards for occupational safety and health. Countercurrents to this general trend have occurred as well. For example, the Railway Labor Act, although predating the Wagner Act, mandates procedures for dispute resolution, and some of these clearly envision a governmental role in that process. However, government involvement has, over time, shifted away from a focus on the regulation of process.
Laws and regulations have given nonunion employees conditions that were formerly only available to workers who had union negotiating power to win such conditions at the bargaining table. Given this, one may argue that the advantages of union membership have grown smaller over time. to some degree, this may have contributed to the decline in union membership, although other factors have also contributed to this decline.
1. Railway Labor Act (1926)

One regulation that was only slightly touched upon in Module 1 is the Railway Labor Act (RLA). The rails, the predominant common carrier system of the time, were covered by a statute that protected employees’ rights to collective bargaining before other industries and, indeed, even before the Great Depression had grabbed hold. This suggests that the distribution of goods via common carriers has occupied a different niche in the economy than has the manufacture or the wholesale and retail sale of the same goods, at least in the minds of lawmakers. The inclusion of air carriers under this statute in more recent years reinforces this proposition.
All railroad employees, whether or not they are personally engaged in moving passengers or freight, fall under the RLA. Similarly, airline employees of all kinds also are covered by the provisions of this statute. Since 1996, air express companies, including ground support personnel, also fall under this act if the employer could be considered primarily an air express company. Thus, Fossum notes that FedEx falls under the Railway Labor Act, but United Parcel Service, which is seen primarily as a ground carrier, does not. In contrast to later acts, dispute resolution under the RLA is quite detailed. The National Mediation Board (NMB) and the National Railroad Adjustment Board (NRAB) are both federal agencies created by the RLA. The NMB consists of three members appointed by the president. The NMB creates and offers alternative dispute resolution training to employers and unions.
NMB functions.
Pile of vote buttons
Representation elections
The president may appoint an emergency board to review the case and make recommendations. Contract negotiations under the RLA are vastly different from under other private-sector (and many public-sector) labor laws. For example, a 30-day notice is required by either party to the other before a contract can be altered. At this point, negotiations begin, but the parties may need and request assistance from the NMB.
No unilaterally imposed changes or strikes can occur until an impasse has been declared by this board. Similarly, no strikes or changes can go into effect until at least 30 days after the completion of an emergency board’s report. The NMB refers grievances to the NRAB to be resolved through arbitration when mediation fails to resolve the dispute. The NMB can appoint arbitrators if the parties to the dispute cannot agree on one. The NRAB, which is comprised of a like number of union and management members, is empowered to settle grievances of both parties. A deadlock among the groups with equal representation leads to the appointment of a referee who can resolve the matter.
2. Other Laws

The Wagner, Taft-Hartley, and Landrum-Griffin acts were discussed in Module 1, and the textbook goes into even more detail in this chapter. Other laws that are important to labor relations and employment law in general include Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (as amended), the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), workers’ compensation laws, the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), among others.

Below is an exhaustive list of these laws and their coverage, major provisions, and federal agencies.



Major Provisions

Federal Agencies

Title VII, 1964 Civil Rights Act (as amended)

Public- and private-sector employers with 15 or more employees; unions

Discrimination in employment decisions is prohibited on the basis or race, sex, religion, color, and national origin.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Age Discrimination In Employment Act (ADEA)

Persons age 40 or older (except between 40 and 65 for bona fide executives)

The act prohibits discrimination in employment decisions or mandatory retirement based on age.


Equal Pay Act (EPA)

Most employers

Differences in pay between men and women in jobs requiring substantially equal skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions must be based on factors other than gender.


Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)

Employees or applicants with a mental or physical disability as defined by the ADA

Employer may not discriminate on the basis of a mental or physical disability. Employee or applicant must be able to perform the job In question with reasonable accommodations for the disability


Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

Private-sector and nonfederal public-sector employers; all employees except managers, supervisors, and executives; outside salespersons and professional workers

The act mandates a minimum wage of $7.25 (as of 2009) per hour; requires time-and-one-half pay for over 40 hours per week for covered (nonexempt) employees; and places restrictions on employment by occupation and industry for persons under age 18.

Wage and Hour Division of the Employment Standards Administration, U.S. Department of Labor

Walsh-Healy (W-H), Davis-Bacon (D-B), and ServIce Contracts Acts (SC)

Contractors with the federal government manufacturing or supplying goods (W-H), contract construction, or services

Employers must pay wages not less than those prevailing in the area for the type of employment used.

Same as FLSA

Social Security Act

Retirees, dependent survivors, and disabled persons who are insured by payroll taxes on their past earnings or earnings of heads of households (railroad workers are covered by the similar Railroad Retirement Act.)

Employer and employee each pay 6.2% for retirement, survivors, and disability Insurance on income up to an annually established limit and pay 1.45% each on all Income for Medicare insurance. Retirees are eligible for benefits based on contribution levels beginning at age 62 and for benefits to survivors or disabled insureds and medical care benefits beginning at age 65.

Social Security Administration

Federal Unemployment Tax Act

All employers and employees except some state and local government, domestics, farm workers, railroad workers, some not-for-profit employers

Payroll tax is paid by employer (except in a few states) on defined levels of income. Levels vary across states, and rates vary across employers within states, depending on the rate and duration of layoffs from each employer. There are legislated levels of income replacement for workers who are involuntary unemployed through no fault of their own. Replacement is generally at 50% or less of regular income for a duration of 26 weeks or until new employment is secured, whichever is less.

U.S. Bureau of Employment Security, U.S. Training and Employment Service, each of the state and territorial employment security commissions

Workers’ Compensation

In most states, employees of nonagricultural private-sector firms except railroads

Employees are entitled to compensating benefits of up to about two-thirds of weekly wage (to a maximum limit) for work-related accidents and illnesses leading to temporary or permanent disabilities. Depending on the state law, employers make payroll-based payments to a state insurance system, purchase insurance through a private carrier, or self-insure. Insurance rates depend on the riskiness of the occupations covered and the experience rating of the insured.

Various state commissions

Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)

Private-sector employers that provide pensions or insurance benefits to employees

Employers must make current payments to fund future expected liabilities. The act provides for vesting (ownership) for employees of accrued benefits after 5 years of service (generally), allows tax-free portability of pension benefits for a terminating employee, regulates fiduciaries, and requires insurance of benefits for underfunded plans.

Department of Labor, Internal Revenue Service, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation

Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)

Private-sector employers except domestic service employers; excludes employers covered by Federal Mine Safety Act

Employers have a general duty to provide working conditions that will not harm their employees and to meet specific standards of care as published in regulations and guidelines. Agents inspect workplaces with appropriate authorization and may issue citations calling for correction and penalties. If an employer disputes a citation, a review commission determines its appropriateness. Enforcement authority may be given to states after they have passed laws consistent with OSHA.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor; National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health; Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission

Federal Mine Safety Act

Employees in underground and surface mining operations

The act establishes procedures for identifying and eliminating exposure to toxic and other harmful materials and for inspecting mines; mandates health and safety training; and provides benefits for pneumoconiosis (black lung disease)

Mine Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor; Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Committee

Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act

Private-sector employers with 100 or more employees

Employer must provide 60 days’ notice of a plant closing involving 50 or more employees and 30 days’ notice for mass layoffs of more than 500 employees or more than one-third of the workforce. Back-pay penalties are incurred if the notice period is inadequate.

Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor

Family and Medical Leave Act

Employers with 50 or more employees and employees with one or more years of service (generally)

Employees may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each 12-month period for care of a newborn or newly adopted baby, personal illness, or care of family member who is ill.

Wage and Hour Division, Employment Standards Administration, U.S. Department of Labor

Under common law in the United States, an employer can hire or fire an employee at-will. In terms of termination, an employer may terminate an employee for a good reason, a bad reason, or no reason at all. The at-will doctrine applies in most cases to nonunion organizations given that no labor contract exists specifying otherwise. Under at-will, employers do not have any contract, oral or written, with employees and make no guarantees to the employee of job security. In turn, employees may also terminate employment at-will, as they also have no oral or written contracts to abide by. However, a large set of federal and state laws and their accompanying administrative regulations (outlined in the table provided above) limit the discretion of the employer in the employment relationship. These laws assist in protecting employees from discrimination and unsafe working conditions, among others.
3. Federal Departments and Agencies

The Department of Labor (DOL) has several agencies involved with employers and unions. The DOL is primarily responsible for implementing human resource programs and monitoring workplace activities. However, it has little direct influence on collective bargaining.

Some of the agencies within the DOL include the following:

Employment Standards Administration (ESA)
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
Employment and Training Administration (ETA)
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Women’s Bureau
Employee Benefits Security Administration
Veterans Employment and Training Service
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Office of Disability Employment Policy
The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) was established by the Taft-Hartley Act to help parties resolve labor disputes. Mediators assist the parties in bargaining but have no power to impose settlements or regulate bargaining activity. The FMCS offers preventive mediation and alternative dispute resolution programs, including problem resolution services for federal agencies as mandated by the Alternative Dispute Resolution and Negotiated Rulemaking acts of 1990. The FMCS approves arbitrators who qualify under the FMCS rules and guidelines. Parties may request panels of qualified and approved arbitrators from the FMCS and may choose one to hear and rule on a contract dispute.

The National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) mission is to administer the National Labor Relations (Wagner) Act, as amended. It does not, however, work out the conflicts that may arise between that statute and any other, as the resolution of conflicts is under judicial jurisdiction. The NLRB is a free-standing agency and is not in the Department of Labor. It is also not accountable to the secretary of labor or the president. Unfair labor practice cases are to be given priority over representation cases or any other type of case pending in a given NLRB regional office. In cases where unfair labor practices have been numerous and/or flagrant to the point where a board-supervised election cannot reflect true employee sentiment clearly, the board can issue a bargaining order without such an election. The board may also issue cease-and-desist orders or orders for make-whole relief, where appropriate, to enforce the act.