Last week, the National Labor Relations Board issued a set of decisions that directly impacts our health and our rights. The Board currently consists of four members, three of whom were appointed by President Trump. In a series of memos, the Board ruled that employers have no obligation to bargain with unions on issues related to COVID – even those that impact our safety. That includes, but is not limited to: hazard pay, sick leave, and temporary closures. They also moved to dismiss a case brought by a whistleblower – a nurse who spoke out about being forced to share protective gowns with other employees while working in a nursing home.
We disagree (in terms so strong they cannot be printed here) with the administration’s ruling. As frontline workers during a pandemic and wildfire season, we are first responders, and we deserve to have a voice in matters that affect our health. Local 1245 members, both those in the field and those running clerical operations, put themselves on the line every time they go to work. And we will not abide by a decision designed to force us into dangerous situations, with no recourse, in the middle of a public health crisis.
On a weekly basis, I review the competitive challenges facing our union. Anti-worker politicians have been on that list for decades – but never have I seen a decision that so plainly puts profits over people. To give you a sense of this Board’s ethos, they also recently sided with Wal-Mart in a case that completely rewrites the rules regarding union stickers and buttons worn at work – they can now be no larger than an employees’ nametag.
But despite these decisions, please keep coming to your business representatives and stewards to report problems and safety issues. Keep working, keep fighting, and do so safely. Do not tolerate any suggestion that you work unsafely or that your rights have been diminished – and if you encounter anything like that, please report it immediately. We will stand with you, NLRB ruling or no, through these difficult days.
–Tom Dalzell, IBEW Local 1245 Business Manager