September 2010

A considerable change

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How the Obama administration is ensuring employees know their rights to unionize

by Jason C. Kim and Gray I. Mateo-Harris
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President Obama continually has strived to fulfill his many promises to labor organizations. Only days after his inauguration, Obama issued three employee-friendly Executive Orders, including Executive Order 13496, also known as the "Notification of Employee Rights Under Federal Labor Laws." The order requires all nonexempt federal government contractors and subcontractors to post a lengthy new notice advising employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and to include the obligation to post this notice in the terms of their federal contracts, subcontracts and purchase orders.

In accordance with Obama's pro-labor agenda, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued its final regulations implementing the order. The regulations went into effect June 21 and apply to any covered government contract, subcontract or purchase order solicited or renewed after that date. Most important, the regulations make clear the Obama administration intends to encourage employee unionization.

Although DOL's final regulations are lengthy and can be daunting to review, there are key provisions to keep in mind when doing so.

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