National Labor Relations Act

Cornell Studies Document Expanding Labor Regulations for Employers and Analyze Current Union Organizing Processes

Hospitality employers should be aware of the gradual expansion of the provisions of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), according to a new report issued by the Cornell Institute for Hospitality Labor and Employment Relations (CIHLER).

Cornell Although the NLRA was created to govern actions related to labor unions, its provisions are being applied to non-union employers now more than ever. The article, "The National Labor Relations Act Is Not Just for Unionized Employers Anymore," by Adam Klausner, Paul Salvatore, and David Sherwyn, is available from the institute at no charge. Klausner is a senior lecturer at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, Salvatore is a partner at Proskauer, and Sherwyn is professor of law, academic director of CIHLER, and the John and Melissa Ceriale Professor of Hospitality Human Resources at the School of Hotel Administration.

In recent years, the National Labor Relations Board, which administers the NLRA, has applied the law to employers' actions with regard to employees, even when the employees were not represented by a labor union. The trigger for this oversight occurs when employees are behaving as a group. Thus, the NLRB has applied the NLRA to employers' actions in connection with employee groups' speech, sexual harassment investigations, and employment-at-will language. The trend for employers is that their actions may be scrutinized by the NLRB when employees act in a concerted fashion.

A separate report issued jointly by CIHLER and the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research takes a look at union organizing, with an eye to improving the process. The report, "Using the Ethical Principles of Union Organizing to Avoid Card-Check Neutrality and Corporate Campaigns," by Zev J. Eigen and David Sherwyn, proposes a new process for union organizing that would put both labor and management on an even stance. Eigen is an associate professor at Northwestern University. The report notes that the current rules and conventions for union organizing for hotel employees pit labor and management against each other when preparing for an election to determine whether employees will be represented by a union. The employees are collateral damage in this government sanctioned "war."

Rather than have both sides take actions that are to the detriment of the employees, Eigen and Sherwyn suggest a system that is intended to preserve the workers' right to self-determination, combined with a level playing field for both labor and management. The new system would be based on the Principles for Ethical Conduct During Union Representational Campaigns, developed by the Institute for Employee Choice, a project of Richard Bensinger and Dick Shubert, who wanted to reduce the unfairness to employees found in the current organizing system.

About The Cornell Institute for Hospitality Labor and Employment Relations
The Cornell Institute for Hospitality Labor and Employment Relations was established in 2013 as a platform for students, employers, employees, unions, and their advocates involved in the hospitality industry. The institute's mission is to support educational programs, sponsor and disseminate research, and hold conferences and roundtables dedicated to the improvement of labor and employment relations, labor and employment law, human resource management, and leadership in the hospitality industry. To learn more about the institute and its projects, visit www.cihler.cornell.edu. 



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