A recent National Labor Relations Board ruling that could make it easier for companies to change working conditions without bargaining with unions may be even more important for labor lawyers than it is for businesses, according to former NLRB Chairman Philip Miscimarra.
The board in a September decision involving bus operator MV Transportation Inc said collective bargaining agreements must only include general provisions allowing employers to alter workplace policies unilaterally in order for them to do so without bargaining. A previous, longstanding test had required a union’s “clear and unmistakable waiver” of the right to bargain over specific issues.
Reuters recently spoke with Miscimarra, now a Washington D.C.-based partner at Morgan Lewis & Bockius, who said the board’s decision will likely lead to a decrease in cases alleging unlawful unilateral changes, which are among the most common the NLRB handles.
Miscimarra was part of the board’s Republican minority during the Obama administration, and was named chair by President Donald Trump in 2017. He rejoined Morgan Lewis, where he had been a partner previous to his stint at the NLRB, in 2018.
Questions and answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.
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