- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 3, 2006

5:01 p.m.

The federal government today established new guidelines for considering a worker a supervisor, a decision organized labor says will exclude millions of Americans from joining unions.

In a long-awaited healthcare case involving a group of Michigan nurses, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that “charge nurses” should be considered supervisory staff and thus not covered by a federal law allowing union representation.

The decision was one of three related rulings issued today, grouped as the “Kentucky River” cases because they were intended to clarify the supervisor question from a case several years ago involving Kentucky River Community Care Inc.

Union leaders denounced the 3-2 decision, saying it would strip at least 8 million workers of their right to have a union by reclassifying them as supervisors in name only.

“Today’s decision is the latest in the Bush-appointed NLRB’s legal maneuvering to deny as many workers as possible their basic right to have a voice on the job and improve their living standards through their union,” AFL-CIO labor federation President John J. Sweeney said.

The decision was not surprising, said Roland Zullo of the Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations at the University of Michigan.

“This is what happens when you have a political party in power that is just not friendly to labor — you get decisions like this,” Mr. Zullo said.

Businesses praised the decision, saying labor activists are overestimating the number of workers affected.

“The NLRB articulated a clear test of supervisory authority that is totally consistent with 70 years of statutory and decisional history, and relatively few people will be impacted,” said Martin Payson, a New York lawyer who represents management in labor cases.

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