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Trump's NLRB Bans Bargaining for COVID-19 Safety

The board took away union rights to negotiate safety or closures

Brian Young's picture
Aug 21, 2020

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has released a series of decisions regarding COVID-19. These decisions are the first guidance that the board has given since the pandemic started in March.

In a series of five memos to their regional directors the NLRB instructed them to dismiss various cases regarding COVID-19 related charges against employers. The board concluded that an employer is not obligated to engage in midterm bargaining regarding union proposals for paid sick leave and hazard pay because of the ongoing pandemic. They also said that an employer does not have to bargain about a temporary closure.

In regards to workers speaking up about a dangerous situation on the job, the board has decided that an individual speaking out about a company's COVID safety procedure is not protected speech. This means that they can be fired by their employer. This guidance came after a case was filed by a nurse who was fired after for refusing to work at a nursing home that was requiring workers to share isolation gowns.

While this decision is not unexpected by the NLRB, it does give employers much more freedom into unilaterally creating work standards during COVID-19. This gives employers significantly more latitude for forcing workers into possibly dangerous workplace situations as COVID-19 continues to rage across the United States.

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