The House Appropriations Committee on July 14 approved the fiscal year 2017 Labor, Health and Human Services funding bill with provisions that would prohibit the Labor Department from enforcing several labor initiatives opposed by the travel plaza and truckstop industry.
The legislation includes language that would prohibit the Labor Department from enforcing a recently finalized rule expanding the number of employees eligible for overtime pay. It also would block the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) from enforcing its newly broadened joint employer status. A companion measure passed earlier this summer in the Senate did not contain these policy provisions.
NATSO strongly opposes these regulatory initiatives, and actively lobbied Congress to include the policy provisions in the appropriations legislation. Several dozen NATSO members flew to Washington, D.C., in May to lobby their members of Congress on these issues during NATSO's annual Day on the Hill.
In May 2016, the Department of Labor finalized new rules governing which employees are eligible for overtime pay. The new rules double the minimum salary threshold that employees must earn in order to be exempt from overtime pay, increasing the figure to $47,476/year ($913/week), up from the previous salary of $23,660 ($455/week). This number will be automatically updated every three years based on wage inflation.
A more detailed overview of the new overtime rules is available in this NATSO member only Current and Proposed New Rules Governing Overtime Pay: Summary And Compliance Guide For Truckstops and Travel Plazas here.
The NLRB recently revised the so-called “joint employer” standard to expand the scope of determining “co-employment” under the National Labor Relations Act. Specifically, the NLRB decided that a company could be considered a “joint employer” if it possesses the right to control various terms and conditions of employment, regardless of whether that company such control.
Broadening the standard will expose more companies to legal liability for how their subcontractors, staffing agencies and franchisees treat their employees. The ruling also makes businesses more susceptible to workforce unionization by imposing new collective bargaining obligations and allowing unions the ability to strike or picket a large corporate entity rather than the individual location where there is a dispute.
A more detailed view of the joint-employer standard is available in this NATSO Member only Joint Employer Standard/Unionization: Summary And Compliance Guide For Truckstops and Travel Plazas.
The measure is unlikely to make it to the House floor for a final vote because the House and Senate have recessed for seven weeks and return for a limited time in September.
However, some of the language, including the policy provisions related to these two labor initiatives could make it into a year-end omnibus spending bill.
Congress will need to consider a comprehensive spending bill before the year end. Negotiations between the House and Senate will include discussion of these, and other, policy provisions as the two chambers work toward a final bill.
President Obama has threatened to veto any bill that contains these policy provisions.
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