Construction Labor Law Developments Covered at AGC's Annual Symposium

April 22, 2010
 The AGC Labor and Employment Law Council - a network of labor lawyers who represent AGC members and chapters - held its 26th Annual Construction Labor Law Symposium on April 16 in Washington, DC.  Attorneys and chapter labor relations managers from across the country attended.
Council members and guest speakers provided presentations on various developments in construction labor and employment law, including: 
  • The Latest Info on Project Labor Agreements and How to Negotiate Them
  • Labor Requirements for Federal & Federally Assisted Contracts
  • Interesting Issues in Multiemployer Pension Plans
  • Primer on Handbilling, Picketing & Bannering
  • Primer on §§8(b)(4)(D) and 10(k) - Jurisdictional Disputes
  • Conducting I-9 Self-Audits
  • Workplace Violence:  "Terror, Trials, and Trends"
  • Workplace Pandemic Planning
Handouts from those presentations are posted on the Labor & HR Topical Resources page of AGC's Web site, integrated into their respective topic areas. Guest speaker Wilma Liebman, chairman of the National Labor Relations Board, addressed recent controversies involving the Board, asserting that controversial decisions issued by the George W. Bush-appointed Board led to the controversy over the latest Board appointments made by Pres. Obama.  The upside of the battle over the nomination of recent Board appointee Craig Becker as well as that over the Employee Free Choice Act is that they have brought labor issues to the public's attention, according to Liebman, while the downside is that they may have made labor-management relations even more divisive and hostile then they had been. The Obama Board will take a fundamentally different approach to decision-making than the Bush Board, Liebman said.  Under her chairmanship, the Board will take a more "dynamic" approach, viewing the National Labor Relations Act as a "living document" and taking into consideration happenings in the "real-world."  However, fears of imminent, wholesale changes in the law by the Obama Board are unrealistic, Liebman maintained, due to constraints such as judicial review of Board decisions, statutory restrictions on economic analysis by the Board, frequent turnover of Board membership, and case processing delay.  If fundamental change in labor law is to occur, she said, it must come from Congress.  She further explained that, while she is exploring the idea of the Board engaging in formal rule-making -- issuing regulations in addition to deciding cases - she is not sure whether the Board will actually conduct rule-making.  The Board's inexperience in the area, restrictions on economic analysis, and the time-consuming nature of the process present obstacles.  
L-R:) LELC Member Mike Boldt of Ice Miller; Senior Compliance Specialist Bill Isokait of U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division; AGC Associate General Counsel Denise Gold; NLRB General Counsel Ron Meisburg" width="300" height="200" />

(L-R:) LELC Member Mike Boldt of Ice Miller; Senior Compliance Specialist Bill Isokait of U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division; AGC Associate General Counsel Denise Gold; NLRB General Counsel Ron Meisburg

The Board's first priority will be to issue decisions in cases that have been pending for a long time but had to be put aside during the two years that the five-member Board had only two members, Liebman said.  These include cases on union bannering, pre-recognition bargaining, job targeting, the rights of workers hired by employers who knew of their illegal status, the rights of union objectors, and the property access rights of a contractor's employees working on another employer's premises. Kyle Hicks, minority labor counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, delivered the Charles E. Murphy Keynote Address.  She spoke about recent developments in Congress and prospects for pending labor and employment legislation, particularly in light of upcoming mid-term elections.  The address is named in memory of "Chuck" Murphy, a long-time member and past chairman of the Council who passed away last year. Make sure that your in-house and outside labor and employment lawyers are Council members, so that they will stay on the cutting edge of construction labor and employment developments.  For information about Council membership, click here or contact Denise Gold, AGC associate general counsel for labor and employment law, at or (703) 837-5326.
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