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OSHA withdraws controversial union walkaround policy

OSHA withdraws controversial union walkaround policy

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has withdrawn a controversial Obama-era policy that allowed union officials to participate in inspections at nonunionized workplaces.

In 2013, OSHA issued a standard interpretation letter allowing employees at nonunion workplaces to designate nonemployees such as union representatives to participate in so-called “walkaround” inspections — drawing the ire of the employer community, which viewed it as a not-so-veiled attempt by the Obama administration to support and expand union representation to nonunion workplaces.

However, OSHA has now withdrawn the union policy language featured in the letter, calling it ‘unnecessary,” in a memorandum to regional administrators dated April 25. 

The Washington-based National Federation of Independent Business employer group challenged the interpretation in September 2016 in U.S. District Court in Dallas, but has voluntarily withdrawn the legal challenge now that the Trump administration has rescinded the policy. 

“The 2013 memo gave unions a pathway to intimidate small business owners,” NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan, said in a statement on Friday. “Congress never intended that OSHA should open the door to unionization efforts.”

Legal experts had predicted the policy could be doomed after a judge’s decision on Feb. 3 not to dismiss part of a lawsuit challenging the policy, saying the Trump administration would either stop defending the lawsuit and/or rescind the interpretation letter. 


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