Looking back on some labor predictions from 2010

Looking back

I wrote this blog on May 24, 2010 over on the Human Race Horses blog.  Turns out I’m a pretty decent prognosticator.  Everything I warned about 6 years ago has either happened, or is happening right now.

Management and Labor Unions still at odds

(Still true)

If you work in human resources, there are a lot of things going on right now – very quietly for the most part – that are going to impact the field, especially if you deal with labor relations.   If you work in human resources, and especially if you work in employee relations or labor relations, you really need to paying attention to these trends, even if you work in a company that is not currently unionized.

Leadership changes at SEIU


First up is the changing of the guard in the top leadership of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the largest union in the United States.   Andy Stern, one of the most influential and controversial union leaders of this decade  has stepped down and is moving into a speaking career.  Stern is being replaced by Mary Kay Henry, a relative unknown who drew on high levels of support in states like California and New York to move past Anna Burger, Stern’s number 2,  and his personal choice to succeed him as International President.

Under Henry, SEIU is expected to be more focused on organizing.   Henry recently announced a $4 million fund for organizing non-traditional SEIU targets, like banks, grocery stores, biotechnology companies and independent contractors.    The  Labor Union Report blog also recently broke a story detailing an SEIU plan for organizing in the fast food restaurant industry.

Rules changes make union organizing easier


The National Mediation Board, the agency that oversees labor relations issues in the rail and airline industries,  recently changed  the election rules governing  the voting process for deciding union representation  for railway and airline employees.  While narrowly focused, there is speculation that these changes could just be the first of many.   Some experts fear that similar rule changes  impacting elections for union organizing could be forthcoming from the NLRB, the agencies that oversees labor relations in most business sectors.

Under the former NMB rules, a union had to receive votes from over half the eligible voters to become the bargaining representative.  Under the new rules, a union just has to receive votes from over half the people who vote.   While the rule itself now mirrors the counting process of the NLRB, the change is significant because the NMB conducts  elections using mail-in ballots or other means for collecting votes from a widely dispersed electorate.   Current NLRB practice requires a live vote in the workplace.   Many labor experts fear that the NLRB may change this process, and give unions a potential organizing advantage by doing so.  For some, it even prompted fears about the return of the Employee free Choice Act.   Leo Gerard, International President of the United Steel Worker even wrote an article called Hey Union-busters, we’ll give you supermajority, highlighting his thoughts on the matter.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce also filed a motion on May 24 challenging the NMB changes.

Department of Labor proposes rule changes


The Department of Labor (DOL) conducted a meeting today intended to be a forum for the discussion  of proposed rule changes covering  employer side consultants,  attorney and employer reporting  related to communication activities regarding “persuasion and advice” related to unions.  The changes would require consultants, including law forms to report many of their activities carried out on behalf of employers under section 203(c) of the Labor Management Reporting Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA).   Penalties for violations could include hefty fines and prison terms.    The direct impact of the proposed change would be to try and stifle management communication efforts during union organizing campaigns.

Potential “nationalizing” of private retirement plans

(Still happening

Fox News is reporting that Democratic Senator Bob Casey (D-PA.) is introducing legislation for a bailout of troubled union pension funds.  If passed, the bill could put another $165 billion in liabilities on the shoulders of American taxpayers.   The news could be even worse, according to Fox – although the price tag of this legislation is estimated at $165 billion, it could go much higher, depending upon a number of factors, including life expectancy of the recipients.

NLRB and Social Media


Labor law slowly begins the process of catching up with technology as the NLRB issues an advisory letter on employer social media policies.

The Labor Relations Today blog recently profiled an advisory letter from the NLRB Division of Advice in which they analyzed the issue under the framework set forth by the Bush Board in Lutheran Heritage Village – Livonia, 343 NLRB 646 (2004), a case that dealt with a rule prohibiting certain types of interactions in the workplace.   This is one of the first instances of a case dealing with labor law and social that I have seen come to the NLRB for review.   It is very interesting just for that reason.  You can view the LRT report here.

Bloggers are Super-Heroes, But Even We Can’t Be Two Places at Once

Batman/Bruce Wayne vs. Superman/Clark 20140611-190148.jpgKent

Super-heroes with super-powers and secret identifies are everywhere these days.  Most of them had secret identities, except maybe for social media and labor relations bloggers.

In the old days, some HR bloggers used to blog anonymously because they had to remain under the radar with their employers.  I was always lucky enough to be able to blog publicly with the blessings of my employers. Then I took this job at CUE and this blog went radio silent.

I’m in the process of trying to get this blog revved up again and posting on a regular basis.

t may seem like I’m not blogging much anymore, but actually I’m blogging several times a week for my day job at CUE Inc. with pretty much the same quirky mix of topics – labor relations, social media and HR.

It’s not much a secret identity, but it’s why this blog hasn’t had many posts lately.

Today I put up a post over there about the recent success unions and labor activists have had in raising the minimum wage in some states.  Go check it out.

Storified>>The Bumpy Road to Raising the Minimum Wage

This has given the Fight for $15 movement cause to celebrate, but the discussion around the issue is not concluded, and it appears some will benefit more than others.

A recent article in the New York Times stated, “But between here and there, things will get complicated for workers and their employers. Nine months from now, there will be six different hourly minimum wages in the state: one for fast-food workers in New York City ($12), and one for fast-food workers in the rest of the state ($10.75); one for other workers in the city who have at least 10 co-workers ($11), and one for those in smaller workplaces ($10.50); one for non-fast-food workers in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties ($10), and one for that group in the rest of the state ($9.70)

“It will be a little confusing,” said Michael Reich, a professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley. “When you have one minimum wage, it’s sort of simple because everyone knows the number. When you have many, it’s more complex.”

Shameless Self Promotion and Some Career Advice for the Semi-retired

Returning to Work After You Retire

I was recently asked to provide a career tip for retired workers returning to the job market.  Here’s what I had to say:

Try Something New

HR Practitioner Michael VanDervort has created thriving workplaces for the past 25 years. VanDervort directs the non-profit organization CUE Inc, which assists companies in making positive work environments where people thrive.

If you’re still deciding on a job to apply for, VanDervort suggests trying something new.

Michael-VanDervortView the opportunity as a chance to experiment again. Remember that this is a great time to try something new for you, and chance to share your knowledge and experience with others. It can be a double win.

What are you passionate about? Think of a way you can turn your hobbies and interests into a career, or take a job that gives back by working with a non-profit or community service organization.

Workforce Issues 2016: A Perfect Storm? Webinar on 3/29

Avoid the perfect storm of labor and workforce issues in 2016  


I have worked with TDn2k for several years now on raising awareness of labor issues confronting the restaurant industry.  Since 2012, there has been a significant escalation of  labor activity focusing on the food services industry.  The most well-known of these efforts is the Fight for $15,but there are several more, including boycotts and corporate campaigns.  These are just a few of the challenges  facing service industry employers in 2016.

When you combine these issues with the rule changes issued by the NLRB, the joint employer issues, and the new FLSA overtime rules.  the industry faces challenging times for any employer.  Indeed, the food and hospitality industries could be facing a perfect storm that will alter their business model dramatically.  That’s why I’m partnering with TDn2K this week to offer some advice on how employers can best respond to these issues.

Many of these issues including rising turnover, wage increases in other service sectors, and shifting demographics are colliding now to create many potential problems for employers.   I’m proud to announce that CUE and TDn2K are partnering to offer a webinar focusing on these issues and what employers can do to cope.

There’s a Webinar For That

TDn2K CEO Joni Thomas Doolin will lead a discussion on the current labor market and best practices with Jill Van Pelt, SVP and CPO of Denny’s Corporation and I will present an update on the most current developments in labor relations.  Join us on MArch 29th at 2 PM ET for Workforce Issues 2016: A Perfect Storm?  This seminar will highlight key strategies for recruiting and retaining workers in today’s complex political environment. You will hear how purpose, community involvement and sustainable business practices have contributed to successful recruiting and retention strategies.

Where to find Michael circa 2016

I’m Running on The Knowledge Party Ticket Image-1

I’ll be in attendance or speaking at the following events. It’s a party of learning and knowledge!

Washington DC April 5-7 for HRPA Denver

April 13-15 for DisruptHR and a CUE coffee chat

Orlando April 17-19 for #SHRMtalent

Jacksonville April 28-29 for the HR Jacksonville annual conference

Charleston May 4-6 for PeopleMatter Collaborate ’16

Orlando May 9-11 for WorkHuman

Orlando May 15-17 for the CUE  2016 spring conference

I’m also part of the 2016 Blog Team for #SHRm16

Strange Bedfellows in the Gig Economy

Where’s Michael these days?

I’m doing most of my posting on the CUE Inc. labor blog these days.  My latest post which is part one of a two part series on some of the employee and labor relations implications surround the “gig economy” for traditional HR practitioners is up over there right now.

Strange Bedfellows in the Gig EconomyLyft_Car_Pink_Mustache

Recently there has bee a growing discourse around policies governing how employees working in the so-called “gig economy” should be treated for purposes of wages and benefits. It’s clear that the current safety net of American laws and corporate structures has not kept up with the evolution of new employment models, but lately it seems like everyone and their uncle is jumping into the discussion.  It’s important for CUE members and HR practitioners to note the proposed system changes and and the “strange bedfellow” alliances that are emerging as partners in working on these issues.

Today Is Giving Tuesday. Please give for #NoKidHungry


Today Is Giving Tuesday

Organizations like No Kid Hungry use the funds we donate and put it to work in the community, thereby continuing to pay forward.  On Giving Tuesday, if you make a donation, that donation will be matched.

#GivingTuesday for #NoKidHungry

At No Kid Hungry, our support helped launch school breakfast programs, recruit summer meals sites, and empower families to shop for and prepare healthy meals. It also provides grants to the most effective hunger-fighting organizations across the country to help them end child hunger in their communities. We’re seeing incredible results from these investments. In many places, just $1 can provide a child with up 10 meals.

There’s Black Friday & Cyber Monday, now it’s #GivingTuesday! Help me make #NoKidHungry a reality this holiday season by donating to @NoKidHungry & all gifts will be matched by @HickoryFarms and @KettleBrandChips up to $100K! Double your impact today: nokidhungry.org/givingtuesday

Full disclosure:  I’m a Social Media Board Member for No Kid Hungry and will be fundraising on my personal social media accounts today.

Thank you so much for using your super powers to help any charity you might deem worthy on this this Giving Tuesday!




The excitement is building and your conference program team is putting the finishing touches on the CUE Conference in Denver. We can’t wait to see you there.

As you plan your conference experience, you may find the following logistical information helpful as you prepare to travel.


CONFERENCE BOOKS – During registration, you selected either an e-Book or printed Book for use at the conference.  If you selected an eBook, you will receive it a week before conference via e-mail. Printed books will be at the registration desk upon your arrival.

MOBILE APP – CUE attendees can now access session descriptions, speaker bios, speaker presentations, speaker evaluations, create a customized conference schedule and so much more – right from your smart phone, tablet or computer!

To access the mobile app, go to https://cuefall2015.pathable.com.

CONFERENCE PROGRAM DOWNLOADS – All session presentations will be available to download via the CUE App a week  before the conference in the CUE mobile app. You can also download presentations from the CUE website http://bit.ly/1ieMJAF, or from the CUE Conference memory stick you will receive as part of your conference attendee package.

CUE PUBLICATIONS – We will be offering some of our most popular CUE publications for sale at special rates during the conference. Stop by the registration desk for full details.


Maximize your 2015 CUE Conference experience by meeting CUE Board members and networking with other  CUE members. This is one of the most important aspects of any CUE event.

1ST TIME ATTENDEE RECEPTION – If you are a first-time attendee at CUE, plan to begin your conference experience at our 1st Time Attendees Cocktail reception on Sunday from 6:00 – 6:30 PM in the foyer of the spectacular Capitol Peak Ballroom on the 38th floor of the hotel.

GRAND OPENING RECEPTION – Join us at the Grand Opening Reception on Sunday evening from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. in the Capitol Peak Ballroom on the 38th floor of the hotel. Enjoy great food and cocktails, and meet with your CUE colleagues from across the globe.

MONDAY NIGHT SOCIAL AND NETWORKING OPTIONS – Monday evening is typically set aside for attendees to hold team dinners or to explore the social life in downtown Denver, but before you head out, be sure to attend the CUE member networking reception for a cocktail and snack in the Aspen Ballroom from 5:15 – 6:15 PM.

TRAVELING ALONE?  – Check out our “Dine Around” options on Monday night  for a chance to eat dinner with CUE Board members and other conference attendees. Check with the registration desk for more information.

TUESDAY NIGHT AT THE WYNKOOP BREWERY – Get ready to relax, let your hair down and get your party on with a special event at the Wynkoop Brewery.  Please join us Tuesday night from 6 – 8 pm in the second floor pool hall which features 15 tournament-sized billiards tables, foosball, darts, brewery tours and great networking. Close out your CUE conference experience with great company and delicious Wynkoop food along with fresh Wynkoop beer from their critically acclaimed brewery.  Buses will begin loading at 5:30 pm.


GRAND HYATT – The times for check-in at the Grand Hyatt Denver will be 3 pm and check-out will be at 12 pm. In the event that you have to cancel your hotel room, please note that the Grand Hyatt has a 2 day (48 hour) cancellation policy. Cancellations made less than 2 days out will be charged a one night’s room and tax penalty. Hotel address is 1750 Welton St, Denver, CO 80202 phone: (303) 295-1234.

From Denver International Airport: Exit Pena Boulevard to I-70 West. Proceed to I-25 South. Exit at Speer Boulevard. South and proceed on Speer Boulevard. Turn left on Lawrence Street Turn right on 17th Street Turn left on Welton, Grand Hyatt is located on the right. More detailed directions can be found at http://bit.ly/1JapRbc.

HOLIDAY INN – The times for check-in at the Holiday Inn will be 3 pm and check-out will be at 11 am. Hotel address is 1715 Tremont Place Denver, CO 80202. Phone: (303) 296-0400.

GRAND HYATT PARKING – The Hyatt offers Valet Parking in a covered garage adjoining the hotel.  (Porte cochere entrance of Grand Hyatt Denver). Overnight Parking is available seven days/week for $37/night USD, and includes in and out privileges. Daily parking is available seven days/week: 0 – 4 hours: $20 and 4 hours or more: $25. Oversized vehicle parking is available seven days/week for $43/day USD. For guests with oversized vehicles, please note, the limited height clearance of the garage (6’9”). Self-parking is available for a fee at several parking lots located near the hotel.


BREAKFAST AND LUNCH SCHEDULE – General and concurrent sessions on Monday and Tuesday will run throughout the entire day. All meals will be served in the Aspen Ballroom on the 2nd floor. Breakfast will be served from 6:45 – 7:45 am and lunch will be served from 12:15 – 1:30 pm both days. Morning breaks will be from 9:15 – 9:30 am and 10:45 – 11:00 am.  The afternoon break will be from 2:45 – 3:15 pm.  Coffee and other assorted beverages will be available.

DINING OPTIONS – Dining in Denver can be an adventure.  Options at the Hyatt include Pub 17 on Welton Street, one of the newest restaurants in downtown Denver offering high plains cuisine and local microbrews, the Fireside Lounge and Starbucks Café. Explore other nearby options at http://denv.co/1Qfyd6U.


THE REGISTRATION DESK – The place to go for help with any conference needs you may have. CUE staff members will be available daily during conference hours to help you with questions.

ATTIRE – Conference dress is typically business casual. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes! Also, we urge you to bring a sweater or jacket as the meeting rooms at the hotel may be cool.

ATTEND OUR SUNDAY PANELS AND DISCUSSION GROUPS – Open your conference with these unique opportunities to network with industry peers and experts. Our industry discussion groups meet Sunday from 3:45 – 4:45 PM and offer an opportunity to exchange information with peers from the Manufacturing, Retail and Transportation sectors in an informal conversational environment. Our “Ask the Experts” panel meets from 5:00 – 6:00 PM and offers a moderated, open format in which CUE experts answer questions about the latest developments in labor and employee relations. Check your schedule or at the registration desk for specific locations.

PRE-CONFERENCE WORKSHOP – The pre-conference workshop will be held from 12:00 – 4:00 PM in the Mt. Oxford and Mt. Columbia rooms on the 3rd floor. Attendees should check in at the registration desk to get materials and their specific room assignment.  Registration desk opens at 11:00 AM.

SPEAKER EVALUATIONS – This year we are proud to partner with Pathable for online speaker evaluations on our mobile app at https://cuefall2015.pathable.com . Each session has a speaker evaluation. Simply click on speaker evaluation, enter the speaker name(s) in appropriate field and rate each speaker in each category and submit. By completing the evaluations, you are providing valuable information for the planning and development of future CUE Conference Programs. We appreciate your time and feedback!

NEW MEMBERSHIP MANAGEMENT WEBSITE – If you would like brief training on how to utilize the new CUE website and manage your membership, please feel free to stop by the registration desk and speak with Morgan Jennings. She will gladly answer any questions or walk you through the site and resolve any issues you may have. If you are interested in signing up for a webinar for training, you may do so by speaking with her. 

CUE CHARITY/ HR Gives Back to a Future Without Parkinson’s

Each conference, we donate to a charitable organization in recognition and appreciation of the speakers who give their time to give to our event. For Fall 2015, we are proud to partner with the Michael J. Fox Foundation as part of the “HR Gives Back to a Future Without Parkinson’s” initiative to raise funds for finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease through an aggressively funded research agenda and to ensuring the development of improved therapies for those living with Parkinson’s today. Click to http://bit.ly/1OV59RN to donate or learn more.

On behalf of the entire CUE Conference Team, thank you for choosing to attend the 2015 fall CUE Conference! So many CUE members and volunteers come together to make this a premier event for our attendees – we truly hope you enjoy it!

CUE staff

Breaking>>Board Issues Decision in Browning-Ferris Industries

This decision will have far-reaching impacts on the fast food industry as well as many others.  More to come soon.

Board Issues Decision in Browning-Ferris Industries

In a 3-2 decision involving Browning-Ferris Industries of California, the National Labor Relations Board refined its standard for determining joint-employer status. The revised standard is designed “to better effectuate the purposes of the Act in the current economic landscape.” With more than 2.87 million of the nation’s workers employed through temporary agencies in August 2014, the Board held that its previous joint employer standard has failed to keep pace with changes in the workplace and economic circumstances.

In the decision, the Board applies long-established principles to find that two or more entities are joint employers of a single workforce if (1) they are both employers within the meaning of the common law; and (2) they share or codetermine those matters governing the essential terms and conditions of employment. In evaluating whether an employer possesses sufficient control over employees to qualify as a joint employer, the Board will – among other factors — consider whether an employer has exercised control over terms and conditions of employment indirectly through an intermediary, or whether it has reserved the authority to do so.

In its decision, the Board found that BFI was a joint employer with Leadpoint, the company that supplied employees to BFI to perform various work functions for BFI, including cleaning and sorting of recycled products. In finding that BFI was a joint employer with Leadpoint, the Board relied on indirect and direct control that BFI possessed over essential terms and conditions of employment of the employees supplied by Leadpoint as well as BFI’s reserved authority to control such terms and conditions.

The Board ordered that within 14 days the ballots that were impounded on April 25, 2014 shall be counted and the appropriate certification issued.

Board Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce was joined by Members Kent Y. Hirozawa and Lauren McFerran in the majority opinion; Members Philip A. Miscimarra and Harry I. Johnson III dissented.

You can download the full board decision here.

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