Thursday, September 13, 2018 Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) issued a statement applauding the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) decision to issue a new rule regarding the joint-employer standard.
“I applaud the NLRB and Chairman Ring for their action to protect American workers and bring much needed clarity for small businesses across the country,” Representative Byrne said. “The ambiguous and expansive joint-employer standard of the Obama NLRB has caused confusion and threatens thousands of jobs, so it is imperative we move forward with a new rule.”
“While the new rule is an important step, it does not change the fact that we continue to need a permanent legislative solution, like the Save Local Business Act,” Byrne said. “I will continue to push for legislative action to bring certainty to our small businesses and their workers.”
Last year, the U.S. House of Representatives passed Congressman Byrne’s bill, the Save Local Business Act, which would roll back the vague and expansive joint employer standard. The Save Local Business Act amends the National Labor Relations Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act to restore the commonsense definition of what it means to be an employer. The legislation clarifies that two or more employers must have “actual, direct, and immediate” control over employees to be considered joint employers.
Byrne said that, “Hiring, work schedules, pay increases. These are all decisions that take place between an employer and an employee. However, in 2015, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) placed itself squarely in the middle of the employer-employee relationship, changing it in a way that hurt working families and small businesses but empowered union interests. This prompted a similar expansion of the joint employer standard under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
Byrne said that the Obama administration and the NLRB discarded settled labor policy and blurred the lines of responsibility for decisions affecting the daily operations of local businesses across the country. Two or more employers can be considered joint employers for making a business agreement that “indirectly” or “potentially” impacts their employees’ day-to-day responsibilities and working environment.
Byrne said that the Obama Administration’s expanded standard threatens the freedom of independent business owners, discourages larger companies from contracting with smaller companies, and makes it harder for entrepreneurs to achieve the American Dream of owning a small business. According to the American Action Forum, the joint employer scheme could result in 1.7 million fewer jobs.”
Small businesses that own franchises have said that the Obama NLRB new joint employer standard would destroy smaller restaurant operators like me.”
Labor organizers defend the Obama era rule because they claim that the franchisee/franchisor relationship is designed to make it harder for workers to organize and by treating each franchisee as a separate employer, versus everybody who works in a McDonalds for example, makes collective bargaining more difficult.
On Thursday the NLRB released a proposed rule that would establish a standard for determining when companies can be held liable for labor law violations committed by subcontractors.
Under the proposal, a company would have to possess and exercise “substantial, direct and immediate control” over the hiring, firing, discipline, supervision and direction of another firm’s employees to be considered a joint-employer. The proposed rule further states that control can’t be limited or routine.
When a company is found to be in a joint-employer relationship, it can be forced to bargain with the jointly employed workers and sued for any unfair labor practices committed by the other employer.
When President Trump took office, he immediately appointed two members to the five-member NLRB. The board then vacated the 2015 ruling in a case involving Hy-Brand Industrial Contractors Ltd. and resurrected the old standard, which required proof that an employer exercised “direct and immediate control” over another company’s workers.
The NLRB then had to toss out the 2017 ruling after the board’s ethics official determined that Trump appointee William Emanuel should have been disqualified from participating in the case.
NLRB said on Thursday that its rulemaking aims to create more certainty and consistency when determining the status of joint employer businesses. A standard issued through rulemaking is considered stronger than a standard established by case rulings.
The International Franchise Association (IFA) praised Thursday’s decision.
A case against McDonald’s over whether McDonalds can be held liable for the labor law violations of its franchisees is still in court.
Alfredo Ortiz, president and CEO Job Creators Network, said that the new NLRB rule will “clear up” confusion when the joint-employer standard was turned upside down earlier this year.
“The proposed rule should be adopted as soon as possible to protect small businesses from lawsuits brought by workers over whom they have no direct control,” Ortiz said.
NLRB Chairman John Ring, Marvin Kaplan and William Emanuel voted for the new rule. Obama era holdover, Board Member Lauren McFerran opposes the new standard. The board has one vacancy.
The rule will be open for public comment for 60 days.
Representative Byrne is the Chairman of the House Workforce Protections Subcommittee.
Congressman Bradley Byrne is seeking another term representing Alabama’s First congressional District in the Congress. He faces Robert Kennedy Jr. in the November 6 general election.
(Original reporting by the Hill’s Lydia Wheeler contributed to this report).
U.S. Attorney Jay Town announces resignation
Jay Town, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, on Friday announced his resignation and plans to work at a Huntsville defense contractor and cybersecurity solutions company.
Town’s resignation will be effective Wednesday, July 15, according to a press release.
“After much thoughtful prayer and great personal consideration, I have made the decision to resign as the United States Attorney of the Northern District of Alabama. I have tendered my resignation to Attorney General William Barr. General Barr expressed his gratitude for my service to the Department of Justice and to the Northern District and, despite having hoped I would continue in my role, understood and respected my decision,” Town said in a statement.
“I am extremely grateful to President Trump, to whom I also tendered a letter, for his special trust and confidence in me to serve as the U.S. Attorney. It was an honor to be a part of this Administration with an unrivaled class of United States Attorneys from around the nation. I will forever remain thankful to those who supported my nomination and my tenure as the U.S. Attorney,” Town continued.
Town said his job with the unnamed Huntsville defense contractor and cybersecurity solutions company is to begin later this year, and the company is to announce his position “in a few weeks.”
“The Attorney General of the United States will announce my replacement in the coming days or weeks,” Town said in the release.
Town has served in his position since confirmation by the U.S. Senate in August 2017. Prior to that appointment, Town was a prosecutor in the Madison County District Attorney’s office from 2005 until 2017.
Attorney General William Barr in a statement Friday offered gratitude for Town’s three years of service.
“Jay’s leadership in his District has been immense. His contributions to the Department of Justice have been extensive, especially his work on the China Initiative and most recently as a Working Group Chair on the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice. I appreciate his service to our nation and to the Justice Department, and I wish him the very best,” Barr said in a statement.
The U.S. Justice Department in April 2019 notified Gov. Kay Ivey that the department’s lengthy investigation into the state’s prisons for men found systemic problems of violence, sexual assaults, drugs and corruption which are likely violations of the inmates’ Constitutional protections from cruel and unusual punishment.
Town’s office leads the discussions between the U.S Department of Justice and the state on the prison conditions.
Problems with violence, deaths and drugs in Alabama’s overcrowded, understaffed prisons have not markedly improved in the year’s since the U.S. Department of Justice released its report.
Commissioner praises prison employees for putting lives on the line during pandemic
Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn on Thursday praised the department’s employees for “literally putting their lives on the line” coming into work during the COVID-19 crisis. Dunn was speaking to the Alabama State Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee, which is holding budget hearings in Montgomery.
“I cannot praise them enough,” Dunn said. “They are going into the facility knowing that it (the coronavirus) is there. Not just our corrections officers but also our healthcare workers.”
“Many of our workers are single moms,” Dunn said. “We have several families where both the husband and wife work for the department and they have children and they are coming to work each day.”
“188 of our staff have self-reported” being coronavirus positive, Dunn said. “109 of them have already been able to return to work. That is a tribute to the dedication of our staff. Unfortunately, we have had two employee deaths.”
“We are working on an expanded testing protocol, so we can eventually test the entire inmate population and can offer testing to our staff,” Dunn said. Employees also have the option of going to their doctor for testing.
“To this point we have tested 523 inmates, 2 percent of our population, and that number will continue to expand,” Dunn assured legislators.
Dunn said COVID-19 has negatively impacted ADOC’s efforts to hire more corrections officers. They have had to cancel job fairs and some new officer trainings due to the coronavirus shutdown. Dunn assured the senators that there has been progress in addressing the staffing issues that have been cited in a lawsuit in federal court.
Dunn said that to this point in 2020, ADOC has had a net increase of 150 corrections officers. The Department has made 455 new hires, but has lost 305 due to attrition for a net gain of 150.
Dunn showed a graph to the state Senators showing that the number of corrections officers working at ADOC peaked at around 2,000 in 2011. Since then the number of officers has declined precipitously dropping to as low as 1100, before beginning to rise in the last year.
“Our hiring efforts have been slowed down by COVID-19,” Dunn explained
Dunn said that they are talking with many candidates who are interested once their unemployment runs out. “We have a whole pool of folks who are waiting and seeing.”
“We always understood that this was going to be a process,” Dunn told Senators.
“Our personnel budget next year is $300 million,” Dunn said. “We have reduced our overtime over $300,000 this year. We have a much tighter management control over that. Part of that reduction is due to the increase in staffing.
Committee Chairman Greg Albritton, R-Atmore, told Dunn, “The over is a very sensitive matter.”
Dunn said that any savings from reducing overtime is being used to pay for the new hires.
Dunn said that the prisons are currently operating at 155 percent capacity. Dunn predicted that once the state builds the three new mega-prisons currently in the bid process that ADOC will be operating at 120 to 125 percent capacity. Dunn said that the state has determined from the California case that 137 percent capacity is right at about the line where the federal courts would intervene. ADOC has set the capacity goal at 120 to 125 percent to have a buffer percentage.
ADOC is funded in the State General Fund (SGF) budget. Alabama has an arcane budgeting system where over 90 percent of state funds are earmarked and there are two separate budgets: the SGF and the state education trust fund budget (ETF). Alabama historically has underfunded its prisons and has long neglected its aging prison infrastructure.
COVID-19 remains a very serious problem in Alabama. 2,064 Alabamians were reported positive on Thursday and another ten died, taking Alabama’s death toll to 1,042.
Rogers leads Homeland Security Committee Republicans
Congressman Mike Rogers, R-Alabama, on Thursday delivered an opening statement highly critical of the Chinese government at a Homeland Security Committee hearing in Washington entitled “Examining the National Response to the Worsening Coronavirus Pandemic.”
“I appreciate you granting my request to allow Members to use the hearing room today,” Rogers said. “We should be conducting our important oversight and legislative business here in Washington. We are much more productive when Members are here, in person, doing our work together. We’ve already proven we can do it safely. I hope we will return to regular order as soon as possible.”
“As you know, I strongly disagree with the Speaker’s unilateral decision to shut down the House of Representatives,” Rogers explained. “We should be conducting our important oversight and legislative business here in Washington. We are much more productive when Members are here, in person, doing our work together. We’ve already proven we can do it safely. I hope we will return to regular order as soon as possible.”
“As I said before, our hearts go out to those who have lost their loved ones to COVID-19 and those who are currently undergoing treatment,” Rogers continued. “COVID-19 is an unprecedented global pandemic that requires an unprecedented response.”
Rogers was highly critical of the Chinese government and their role in the global pandemic.
“Unfortunately, we lost precious time early in the response when China hid the disease from the world,” Rogers said. “For weeks the Chinese Communist Party refused entry to outside medical experts. The Chinese suppressed journalists from reporting. Worst of all, China deliberately withheld evidence of the virus’ structure and deadly spread. During this, the Chinese hoarded life-saving medical supplies and encouraged foreign travel, seeding the virus across the globe. I want to commend Ranking Member McCaul’s work on the Foreign Affairs Committee to extensively document this deadly cover-up in a recent report.”
“It’s clear that China has pulled out all the stops to manipulate everyone from media outlets to the World Health Organization,” Rogers continued. “The WHO maintained for months that China had promptly self-reported COVID-19. They did not. And after months of lying the WHO has come clean. The WHO now says it found out about COVID from media reports and whistleblowers from China. The Chinese Communist Party once again has been caught with blood on its hands.”
“Facing an extraordinary public health crisis and China’s deadly coverup, the Trump Administration has responded with a whole of government response,” Rogers stated. ”To date, the Administration has – Prohibited the entry of travelers from global hot spots; Invoked the Defense Production Act to increase supplies of critically needed medical equipment, such as ventilators; Coordinated the delivery of over 167 million respirators, 682 million surgical masks, and 17 billion gloves; Sent over $125 billion to the states to support the medical response to COVID-19; Distributed over $500 billion in PPP loans to small business; and Helped facilitate the testing of over 36 million tests. In fact, we are now capable of conducting over 700,000 tests per day. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the number of positive tests are rising in many areas. That’s why it’s so important for all Americans to continue to heed the advice of our federal, state, and local public health officials.”
“I am pleased to see a couple of public health and emergency response officials on the panel today,” Rogers said. “Colonel Hastings currently serves as the Director of Alabama’s Emergency Management Agency. He had a very distinguished 30 year career in the Air Force. For the last 3 years, he has done a tremendous job leading EMA’s response to several natural disasters and now the COVID-19 pandemic. Colonel, thank you for joining us today. I appreciate all the witnesses for appearing. I look forward to hearing how you all are using the emergency funding and resources provided by Congress and the Administration to respond to this crisis.”
“I am also interested in knowing what more Congress can do to help you effectively respond,” Rogers said. “Our country has faced outbreaks of serious disease in the past. In each case, we’ve marshalled our collective resources and ingenuity to overcome the crisis. I’m confident that will be the case with COVID-19.
Rogers is the ranking member of the House Homeland Committee.
More than three million Americans have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, including more than 48,000 Alabamians. The novel strain of the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, shows no sign of slowing anytime soon as 61,864 Americans were diagnosed just on Wednesday. The virus was first identified late in 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China late in 2019. The first positive test for the virus in Alabama was in mid-March.
Rogers represents Alabama’s 3rd Congressional District.
Perry Hooper endorses Tuberville
Former State Rep. Perry Hooper Jr., Trump National Victory committee member, formally endorsed former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville for U.S. Senate on Thursday.
“I have known Coach Tommy Tuberville since he first arrived at Auburn in 1999,” Hooper said. “Since day one when I went to watch my sons practice football, he was always talking to me about Republican Party Politics. I knew it was in his blood. Little did I know at the time, I would be joining the President in supporting him for the United States Senate.”
“Coaching football is more about leadership than X’s and O’s,” Hooper continued. “Tommy’s leadership abilities were the first thing that impressed me when we first met. He has been places recruiting that few people running for office have. He has been in some of the poorest neighborhoods in the country, convincing Mommas how he was going to help mold their 17 years old sons into men. He really cares about everyday people and what is best for our neighborhoods and schools. He has been a great teacher of life lessons as well as an outstanding football coach. He brought in former Auburn Linebacker Chette Williams to serve as the Auburn football team chaplain. He is a dedicated Christian and dedicated to his family which includes his former players. This is what this country needs now – leaders not career politicians.”
“Tommy Tuberville is a principled, free market conservative who has the support of President Trump and has put together a great campaign to defeat Doug Jones,” said David McIntosh, president of the Club for Growth PAC “President Trump’s endorsement is by far the most important endorsement a candidate can earn for a Republican Primary, and we are glad to join President Trump in supporting Tommy Tuberville.”
Club for Growth PAC has been strongly supporting Tommy Tuberville for Senate and Barry Moore and Bill Hightower in the Second and First Congressional Districts.
During these turbulent times, the President needs Tommy Tuberville on his team.,” Hooper said. “As the President stated in his endorsement “Tommy Tuberville loves his country and will never let it down”. He is 100 % behind the President and the Trump Agenda. He could easily have retired after his long successful football career, but there is one more chapter in his life – serving in the US Senate. He has been a winner on and off the football field; as Senator he will be a big win for America and Alabama.”
Hooper is a member of the Alabama Republican Executive Committee and a strong supporter of Auburn University athletics.
Tuberville faces former U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions on Tuesday, July 14, in the Republican primary runoff. The winner of the Republican nomination will face incumbent Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, in the Nov. 3 general election.