- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 22, 2006


Organized labor is filing an international protest about a federal decision redefining which workers are supervisors exempt from legal protection to join unions.

The AFL-CIO, a federation of about 50 labor unions with 9 million members, said it would file a complaint today with the International Labor Organization of the United Nations about a decision this month by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

The decision, covering what are known as the Kentucky River cases, involved the role of a supervisor.

The board ruled that nurses who regularly run shifts at health care facilities should be considered supervisors and exempt from federal protections that cover union membership. The decision could have major implications for workers in other fields.

“This will demonstrate how far outside the mainstream of accepted international law the U.S. is moving,” said Craig Becker, a legal counsel to the AFL-CIO.

NLRB decisions cannot be appealed directly in the U.S. courts, although those issues might reappear in the courts in other labor cases, he said.

Workers classified as supervisors under the ruling would not be protected by the National Labor Relations Act. Dissenting members of the NLRB said the decision “threatens to create a new class of workers under federal labor law: workers who have neither the genuine prerogatives of management, nor the statutory rights of ordinary employees.”

NLRB officials had no comment about the complaint being made to a committee of the international labor association.

Although the committee of labor law specialists from around the world has no enforcement power, the AFL-CIO is looking for support in efforts to restore the more traditional view of what makes a supervisor.

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