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Employers & the Health Care Crisis
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Braun Consulting News
News on Personnel, Labor Relations and Benefits

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Top Employer Briefs

Checkmark Graphic Employee Free Choice Act Blocked

The U.S. Senate recently blocked the so-called "Employee Free Choice Act" (HR800) (S.1041) to amend National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

On March 1, 2007, the House of Representatives passed the act by a vote of 241 - 185. However, the Senate on June 26 voted 51-48 on a Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Proceed to Consider the bill. Because 60 votes were needed to invoke cloture, the bill is unlikely to pass during the 110th Congress.

According to the "Open Congress" web site:

"This bill proposes changes to the rules under which workers' unions may be formed, the way first contracts between unions and employers are negotiated, and how employees' rights are enforced. Currently, unions are certified by a secret ballot election, where the majority of employees vote in favor of forming a union. EFCA would also allow unions to be certified once a majority of employees have signed union authorization cards. This bill also designates a time line for first contracts to be drawn up between unions and employees. After a 120 day period of negotiations and mediation, the issue, if not resolved, will be referred to arbitration, and the decision will be binding for a period of two years. Finally, this bill increases the fines and restitution that employers must pay when they are found guilty of violating their employees' right to organize unions".

There are some reports that unions are making passage of this bill a priority, so it may reappear in the future.

In the process of enacting this law the congress has forgotten why it is that the NLRB holds secrete ballot elections - and that is because prior to the NLRA the unions, as well as employers, would threaten and intimidate employee regarding their selection.

In a way the Free Choice Act takes us back to the "bad old days" since under this law there is nothing to stop union people from getting cards by coercion and then forcing the union on employees who may not really want one.

In the USA we have concluded that the secret ballot is the way to resolve choices in a democracy. One must ask what is wrong with preserving the employees right to vote by secret ballot, and what is the real reason that the unions want to take that right away from employees?

For more information from Open Congress follow this link.

Link to the H.R.800 bill: Click Here for the H.R. 800 PDF File

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Checkmark Graphic Enforcement of No-Match Rule

On August 10, 2007 a new rule was issued by the Department of Homeland Security in order to give employers clear guidance on how to handle so-called "no-match" letters from the Social Security Administration that alert them to inconsistencies with federal records.

The rule goes into effect in September.

The so-called "no-match rule" provides that companies will have to resolve within 90 days discrepancies between workers' names and Social Security numbers on tax forms and those contained in government databases.

If work authorization or identity can't be confirmed, companies would have to fire the employees.

The new rule is part of an effort to crack down on immigration violations within existing law.

The Homeland Security Agency has filed 742 criminal charges in the current fiscal year, compared with 24 in fiscal year 1999.

"We're going to clamp down on employers who knowingly and willfully violate the law," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said.

Some of the "clamping down" includes raising civil fines for illegal employment by 25 percent, and reducing the number of worker identity documents that employers can accept.

"We're not looking to punish people for honest mistakes," Chertoff said. "The person who does their best in good faith has nothing to fear from us."

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Checkmark Graphic H-1B Immigration Visas Gone on First Day

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) noted that it received 150,000 applications for 65,000 H-1B visa slots on Monday, April 2, when the process officially began.

That was the first day that applications were accepted.

The visas allow immigrants with a bachelor's degree or equivalent professional experience to work in the U.S. for the 2008 fiscal year beginning October 1.

If they don't have an H-1B visa foreign nationals can only be employed in the U.S. for only one year after they graduate.

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Checkmark Graphic Personality Testing Controversial

Though it is still controversial, personality assessment seems likely to become a more prominent tool for employers as time goes on. According to the Association of Test Publishers, about 35 percent of U.S. organizations use personality tests as part of their hiring process.

These tests are most often used to try to uncover work-related personality traits such as conscientiousness and agreeableness.

Personality tests indicate basic tendencies based on a given core personality profile, while behavioral tests concentrate on how a person might function within specific circumstances.

Aptitude tests often include both personality and behavior elements in order to draw out an individual's personal style and preferences.

Advocates of personality testing say some assessments can offer useful and legitimate insights into how well people might fit into an organization.

Some critics question these personality tests, while others claim that the testing industry has not been as open to public scrutiny as it should be.

Government agencies, hospitals, schools, and vocational centers are the types of organizations who utilize these tests most, according to product vendors.

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Checkmark Graphic Facebook and MySpace Caution

A word of caution to employers tempted to use Facebook, MySpace, or other social networking sites to research job applicants... though this might be tempting it can be fraught with potential problems.

In a March 8 ABC News report the predicament of a Yale law school graduate was profiled. She alleges that she was unable to find a job because of photos and unfavorable information about her was posted on the Web. The report also noted that 26 percent of employers access social networking sites for information about employees.

Employers should know that they are specifically prohibited from asking applicants questions that disclose information that might allow the employer to make a hiring decision based on unlawful discrimination. Interview questions to stay away from are those that touch on how old the applicant is, or the applicant's national origin, marital status, religious beliefs, or health and physical condition.

Because of this fact searching social networking sites for information on an applicant might not be such a good idea. This type of information, and many other kinds that may be even more troublesome for employers who are exposed to it, is one of the mainstays of these networking web sites.

And yet, Facebook has recently released a new "career tool" from Jobster. Jobster is now building its career networking and job search tool on the Facebook platform. This means that Facebook users can directly connect with companies they are interested in applying to. The applicant's information is passed along to hiring managers that use Jobster's sourcing tools.

So, as long as employers are contacted through these networking sites, rather than using information gathered at them, there is less chance for problems.

Just a note of caution for employers tempted to use these sites to unearth information about job candidates... you might be getting more than you bargained for.

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