You may have seen recent news stories about the Los Angeles regional director of the National Labor Relations Board filing a complaint accusing a California port drayage firm for misclassifying drivers as independent contractors. But what you may not be aware of is this is just the first step in a planned nationwide assault on independent contractor status by the NLRB.
In late March Richard E. Griffin Jr., NLRB’s general counsel, issued a memo to the board’s regional directors laying out an agenda he expects them to pursue. Many of the categories of cases described are intended to overturn established precedent and create new standards that will impact all worker/management relationships—both union and nonunion.
One category involves cases where Griffin wants them to apply his theory that independent contractor status by its very definition constitutes an unfair labor practice whether or not a union is involved.
In his view—one shared by a majority of the board members—the NLRB’s enabling law covers any employees who are engaged in what are considered concerted protected activities. This protection extends to nonunion workplaces where employees discuss and act together to address wages and working conditions, even if an organizing campaign is not involved.