Congress Passes 2022 Government Funding Legislation

Finally: Congress passes the 2022 government funding legislation. This week, Congress passed a $1.5 trillion omnibus funding bill (HR 2471), setting the stage for fully funding the federal government for the remainder of fiscal year 2022. The appropriations package marks the first time that President Joe Biden and the Democratic-controlled legislative branch will put their imprint on federal government funding. . Throughout 2021 and the early months of 2022, the federal government has operated on funding limits established at the end of 2020 and signed into law by former President Donald Trump.

The bill would provide the U.S. Department of Labor with $13.2 billion in funding (an increase of $653 million from the level enacted for fiscal year 2021), with the wage and hour division receiving $251 million. ($5 million above FY2021 enacted level) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) getting $612 million ($20 million above FY2021 enacted level) ). The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received $420 million ($15.5 million more than the level adopted for fiscal year 2021). While modest, these increases would allow the administration to hire more attorneys, investigators and other professionals to advance both its enforcement and regulatory agendas. Funding for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) would remain stable at just over $274 million, relatively unchanged since 2014. The bill also maintains long-standing language that would prohibit the NLRB from using appropriate funds. to “issue any new directive or regulation that would provide employees with any means to vote by any electronic means in an election to determine a representative for collective bargaining purposes.

The zombie blacklist is reactivated. There’s a saying in Washington, DC that no bad political idea ever goes away. This trope helps explain why employers who contract with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) may soon find themselves subject to a labor and employment law compliance reporting system. The USDA offers require federal contractors, upon accepting a government contract with the agency, to certify that they – and subcontractors at all levels – are in compliance with fifteen federal labor laws and executive orders executive authorities, as well as with equivalent state laws. Contractors would also be required to provide the USDA with a list—updated every six months—of any violations of these labor laws along with “any steps taken to correct the violations or improve compliance with these legal requirements.” “. This requirement would fall to lower level contractors. What would this information be used for? During the bidding process, the USDA will “review all information provided and determine whether a contractor is a responsible source that has a satisfactory record of integrity and business ethics.” The proposal recalls efforts over the past three decades to build into the federal contracting process additional penalties for violations – or alleged violations – of labor and employment laws, particularly the failure of former President Barack Obama’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces blacklist system.

Treasury report: Uncompetitive actions by employers are hurting workers. On March 7, 2022, the U.S. Treasury Department released a report titled “The state of competition in the labor marketwhich “lists the ways in which insufficient competition in the labor market harms workers”. The report covers many topics familiar to readers of the buzz— joint employment, independent contractors, alternative dispute resolution and non-competition agreements, to name a few — and suggests that these arrangements unfairly limit competition in the labor market, lower wages and hurt workers . Unsurprisingly, the report reinforces the administration’s already known policy preferences on these topics and suggests that these preferences should be implemented to help workers.

OSHA Unveils COVID-19 Healthcare Enforcement Initiative. In its ongoing efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and its variants in the workplace, OSHA this week launched the implementation of a “highly targeted, short-term inspection initiative for hospitals and to skilled nursing facilities treating or managing COVID-19 patients. The initiative, which will run from March 9, 2022 to June 9, 2022, will focus on “monitoring and monitoring inspections of hospitals and healthcare facilities qualified nurses that OSHA had previously inspected or investigated” for issues related to COVID-19.

The NLRB workplace rules case is progressing. March 7, 2022 was the deadline for stakeholders to submit amicus briefs in the NLRB’s ongoing case regarding its standard for determining when an employer’s rule in the seemingly neutral workplace violates national law. on labor relations. As the buzz at previously discussed, many expect the Commission to revert to a controversial interpretation that ignores legitimate employer reasons for enacting a workplace policy, and could instead find a violation if there is any way that a rule could be interpreted as interfering with the right of employees to engage in collective activity. A final decision should be made in the coming months.

First Lady of the Law. To celebrate International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month this week, the buzz remembers the First Lady of the Law. It was the nickname given to Mabel Walker Willebrandt (1889-1963), who served as Assistant United States Attorney General from 1921 to 1929. Willebrandt began her career as a schoolteacher in Los Angeles, California, while studying law at night. During his final year of law school, Willebrandt began offering pro bono legal work in local courts, which helped launch his formidable career:

  • Willebrandt began her government service as Los Angeles’ first female public defender. She has argued over 2,000 cases in this position.

  • At 32, Willebrandt was appointed assistant attorney general by President Warren Harding. In this position, she focused primarily on enforcing the Volstead Act, which instituted Prohibition.

  • Willebrandt has argued more than 40 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, including successful advocacy in United States vs. Sullivan, 274 U.S. 259 (1927), in which the Court held that proceeds from illegal liquor sales were subject to income tax. The decision served as the basis for the prosecution of Al Capone in 1931.

  • After President Herbert Hoover dropped Willebrandt as U.S. Attorney General in 1929, Willebrandt resigned her position and returned to private practice in California, where she represented the Screen Directors Guild, as well as stars filmmakers such as Jean Harlow and Clark Gable.

  • Willebrandt then earned his pilot’s license and promoted air travel with his friend, Amelia Earhart.

© 2022, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, PC, All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 70

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