There has been a consistent and steady decrease in unionization across the Country over the past forty years. Although many can argue as to the reasons for that, it is clear that organized labor intends to alter that trend by changing the rules of the game. The most recent attempt is the Workplace Action for a Growing Economy (“WAGE”) Act, a bill intended to strengthen the National Labor Relations Act and imbue the National Labor Relations Board with unprecedented power and authority.
This ambitious proposed legislation, introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives last week, would enact the following changes:
- triple the back wages workers can recover from employers who commit unfair labor practices (regardless of immigration status);
- grant federal courts the power to issue injunctions to immediately return terminated employees back to work;
- confer upon the NLRB the power to levy civil penalties of up to $50,000 for employers who commit unfair labor practices, and double penalties for repeat offenders;
- grant the NLRB authority to impose personal penalties on officers and directors of employers who commit violations;
- allows workers to bring private actions for monetary damages and attorneys’ fees in federal district courts, as they can under Title VII and other civil rights laws;
- empowers the NLRB to issue bargaining orders upon findings that an employer interfered with a union election; and
- limits employers’ ability to challenge NLRB decisions.
While this bill is almost certainly “dead on arrival” given the current political composition of Congress, it definitely shows that organized labor will not go away quietly.