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Manufacturers Gain on Better Joint-Employer Standard at the NLRB

In a win for manufacturers, National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Chairman John Ring said the NLRB will conduct notice-and-comment rulemaking to set a more workable joint-employer standard under the National Labor Relations Act, the National Association of Manufacturers reported.

Ring wrote senators who had challenged his perceived opinion that “at the conclusion of the rulemaking process, my hope is that the final rule will bring far greater certainty and stability to this key area of labor law, consistent with congressional intent.”

“Although I have an open mind and will consider all comments we receive from interested parties, I will not pretend that I am devoid of opinions on the subject of the joint-employer standard, any more than my predecessors, then-Chairman Wilma Liebman and then-Members Mark Gaston Pearce and Craig Becker, were devoid of opinions when they embarked on rulemaking to change the Board’s representation-case procedures in 2011, or than then-Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce and then-Members Kent Hirozawa and Nancy Schiffer were when they repeated that enterprise in 2014.

“As I am sure you are aware, it is well settled that holding opinions or embarking on notice-and-comment rulemaking does not disqualify an agency administrator from undertaking such rulemaking,” Ring wrote.

In 2015, the NLRB upended 30 years of labor law in Browning-Ferris Industries (BFI), redefining joint-employer status so broadly that manufacturers may be considered “employers” of a contractor’s workforce. Since BFI, the NAM has worked tirelessly for a more workable standard, both in the courts and Congress, the NAM said.

After Chairman Ring’s announcement, the NAM joined with a coalition of industry associations to directly petition for rulemaking at the NLRB. The NAM will continue to fight for a workable, dependable and stable joint standard for the manufacturing industry throughout the rulemaking process.

The Business Council of Alabama is the exclusive representative of the NAM in Alabama.

IT’S THE ECONOMY, Y’ALL; RATE INCREASED 0.25 PERCENT

For the second time this year, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates and brightened projections for Gross Domestic Product in 2018. Wednesday’s action was further endorsement of the U.S. economy’s strength and momentum, Politico reported.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell was upbeat. “The U.S. economy is in great shape,” he said after the announcement.

The 0.25 percent increase was reported in Bloomberg News and The New York Times, to name a few publications.

The Fed’s main borrowing rate, which influences interest rates on everything from mortgages to savings accounts, is now between 1.75 percent and 2 percent.

Fed officials estimate that the current unemployment rate of 3.8 percent could fall to as low as 3.6 percent this year and 3.5 percent next year. Officials also predict the economy will grow 2.8 percent in 2018, up from the 2.7 percent projection in March. The estimate for 2019 growth remained unchanged at 2.4 percent.

While President Trump’s administration hoped for a 3 percent growth rate, Powell said the Fed is uncertain about what the ultimate effects of tax cuts and new government spending will be.

He also said he doesn’t see any particular warning signs on the horizon. “I wouldn’t look at today’s financial stability landscape and say that risks are meaningfully above normal,” he said.

Powell was optimistic that inflation wouldn’t rise too quickly, despite the central bank’s projection of a total of four rate hikes this year. “If we thought inflation was going to take off, then obviously we’d be showing higher rates,” he said.

The National Association of Manufacturers chief economist, Chad Moutray, writes that the Fed’s decision was “was widely expected” and that there could be four hikes in the federal funds rate this year.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Weekly Jobless Claims Are Less Than Expected
Reuters (6/14) “New applications for U.S. unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week and the number of Americans on jobless rolls declined to a near 44½-year low, pointing to a rapidly tightening labor market. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 218,000 for the week ended June 9, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Claims data for the prior week was unrevised.

“Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 224,000 in the latest week. The labor market is considered to be close to or at full employment, with the jobless rate at an 18-year low of 3.8 percent. The unemployment rate has dropped by three-tenths of a percentage point this year. It is near the Federal Reserve’s forecast of 3.6 percent by the end of this year.

“Layoffs have remained very low amid signs of growing worker shortages across all sectors of the economy. There were a record 6.7 million job openings in April. The number of unemployed people per vacancy slipped to 0.9 from 1.0 in March, indicating that most people looking for a job are likely to find one. The claims report also showed the number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid declined 49,000 to 1.70 million in the week ended June 2, the lowest level since December 1973.”

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