The House Appropriations Subcommittee for Labor, Health and Human Services approved a fiscal year 2017 spending bill with provisions which would block several labor initiatives that stand to hurt the travel plaza and truckstop industry.
The $161.6 billion bill funds programs within the Department of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and other related agencies.
Specifically of concern to NATSO members, the measure includes language that would prohibit the Labor Department from enforcing a recently-finalized rule expanding the employees eligible for overtime pay and would also block the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) from enforcing its newly broadened joint employer standard.
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.
Given that the legislative window is closing rapidly, the FY 2017 spending bill is unlikely to make it to the House floor for a final vote. However, some of the language, including the policy provisions, could make it into an end-of-the-year omnibus spending bill.
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved its FY 2017 spending bill in June without any policy riders.
NATSO will continue lobbying Congress on these issues report on any further developments.
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