Labor’s Not-So-Secret Weapons in Washington, DC

Morning Shift: “Griffin And Weil: Labor’s One-Two Punch”

The Washington Post’s Lydia DePillis profiles two of the Obama administration’s top labor enforcers: NLRB General Counsel Richard Griffin and Labor Department Wage and Hour Administrator David Weil. Griffin and Weil both insist they aren’t coordinating enforcement activity, but they’re kindred spirits in trying to penetrate contractual relationships that let companies distance themselves legally from their least-paid workers. … This hasn’t won Griffin and Weil any corporate friends.]

Washington Post Wonkblog: “Meet the government guys standing up for franchise workers and contractors”

How labor agencies are targeting worker bargaining power in an increasingly outsourced world.

As the agency’s chief prosecutor, Griffin can only work with the complaints that cross his desk. It was either luck or fate, then, that a series of new cases would give him the opportunity to help fundamentally reshape the rules that govern companies that increasingly rely on subcontractors, temporary workers, franchise employees and the like. …

Trade associations say they saw such attacks coming, and that is why they resisted Griffin’s appointment from the get-go; they said he would tilt the agency in favor of labor. …

“If you’re a management person, you’re going to say Mr. Griffin’s term is one of the most dramatic activist terms of any general counsel in history,” said Michael Lotito, co-chair of the Workplace Policy Institute at the management-side law firm Littler Mendelson. …

Griffin is actually one of two Obama appointees who, in their separate legal domains, have taken on the project of ensuring that bargaining rights and wage protections are upheld by the companies that ultimately govern the terms and conditions of their employment. …

All too often, [Wage and Hour Administrator David] Weil says, they have misclassified employees as independent contractors to avoid paying benefits like minimum wage, overtime, unemployment insurance and workers compensation, or brought in temporary staffing agencies that can be swapped out as soon as they get too expensive. So with a beefed up inspection staff, the department has done extensive market research to target investigations in industries like construction and light manufacturing, where abuses are most common.

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About Randy Lyman

SEIU Local 1021 Communications Dept.

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