Well THAT’S Uncomfortable

September 30th, 2016
Well THAT'S Uncomfortable

Making unpopular decisions. Managing conflict. Receiving negative feedback. They make us uncomfortable, but they have a secret benefit. Find out what it is.

Leadership Tip of the Month: Great Leaders Always Do These Things

September 30th, 2016
Put Your Weirdness into Your Work
  • Set worthy — and clear — objectives
  • Gather intelligence, including market research and competitive analysis
  • Create sound tactical plans for achieving goals
  • Use every available asset when pursuing objectives
  • Remain highly visible, especially when things become difficult

Source: http://www.inc.com/bill-murphy-jr/23-things-great-leaders-always-do.html

Fact of the Month

September 30th, 2016
Fact of the Month
Fact of the Month

In April of 2016, San Francisco became the first city in the U.S. to approve six weeks of fully paid leave for new parents. The ordinance goes into effect January 1, 2017, for companies with more than 50 employees (and a year later for those with 20 or more workers).

NLRB Rules Temporary Workers Can Be Included in Client Bargaining Units Without Consent

September 30th, 2016

Board Reinstates 2000 M.B. Sturgis Decision

Sweeping aside legal precedent that had stood for more than 10 years, the U.S. National Labor Relations Board today ruled, in the case of Miller & Anderson Inc., that staffing firm temporary employees can be included in a client’s existing bargaining unit without staffing firm and client consent, so long as the temporary workers are jointly employed by the client (using NLRB’s new relaxed standard) and share a community of interest with the client’s employees regarding the terms and conditions of employment. Under prior NLRB precedent, temporary employees could not be included in a client’s existing bargaining unit without the client’s and staffing firm’s consent.

Although today’s decision represents a win for organized labor and a return to the legal standard last espoused by NLRB in its 2000 M.B. Sturgis Inc. decision, ASA does not expect the ruling to significantly affect staffing firm–client relationships.

In Miller & Anderson Inc., the Sheet Metal Workers union attempted to organize a collective bargaining unit consisting of Miller & Anderson employees and a staffing firm’s temporary employees. A NLRB regional director dismissed the union’s petition to represent the employees in a single unit, relying on NLRB’s 2004 ruling in H.S. Care LLC dba Oakwood Care Center that temporary employees cannot join a client’s existing bargaining unit without the client’s and staffing firm’s consent.

The Sheet Metal Workers appealed, arguing that NLRB should reinstate M.B. Sturgis and allow for inclusion in a bargaining unit without both employers’ consent. The staffing firm filed a motion to dismiss the case on the ground that Miller & Anderson had stopped using temporary help well before NLRB decided to review the matter.

ASA filed an amicus brief in the case, arguing that the National Labor Relations Act requires the consent of both employers and that Oakwood Care Center was controlling. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, Associated Builders and Contractors, and other groups also filed briefs urging NLRB to adhere to Oakwood.

Nevertheless, NLRB reversed itself and ruled that staffing firm and client consent is not required under the NLRA, and that any consent requirement would frustrate NLRB’s duty to afford employees the “fullest freedom” to exercise their right to bargain collectively.

Addressing Client Concerns
Today’s decision was widely expected. Unlike court decisions that are largely insulated from political considerations, NLRB decisions are uniquely sensitive to which political party controls the White House. Thus, it was widely anticipated that the current NLRB, whose majority was appointed by President Obama, would overturn Oakwood Care Center (decided during the term of President George W. Bush) and return to M.B. Sturgis (decided during the term of President Clinton).

As a result of today’s decision, complex issues could potentially arise over which party, the staffing firm or the client, controls which terms and conditions of temporary workers’ employment for purposes of bargaining. Equally thorny issues could arise in determining whether the staffing firm’s employees have a sufficient commonality of interest with the client’s employees to warrant certifying a bargaining unit consisting of both.

However, it is important to note that the M.B. Sturgis ruling did not have a significant impact on the staffing industry during the four years it was in effect, and Miller & Anderson similarly is likely to have little practical effect. Few temporary workers are assigned to work sites with existing collective bargaining arrangements—and unions generally have shown little interest in separately organizing temporary workers, bargaining over the terms and conditions of temporary workers’ employment, or using temporary workers as a way to organize nonunion work sites. Moreover, temporary workers have shown little interest in joining unions and paying union dues. Thus, it is likely that relatively few staffing clients will be faced with the prospect of unionized temporary workers.

Zika Virus: A Proactive Approach

September 13th, 2016

For the first time in 2015, cases of Zika virus infection emerged in the Americas and the Caribbean. In the past, Zika virus historically had only been found in Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. The virus, named for its discovery in the Zika Forest in Uganda in 1947, poses an ongoing risk to employers and employees alike.

Zika virus is primarily spread through the bites of infected mosquitoes. Mosquitoes can become infected when they bite an infected person and can then spread the virus to other people they subsequently bite. In Zika-affected areas, it’s crucial to protect yourself and others from possible exposure by always taking steps to prevent and avoid mosquito bites. There’s no vaccine to prevent Zika virus and there’s no specific treatment for individuals who become infected.

Global companies, and companies who have boots in the ground internationally, should take special precaution with employees. It’s important to understand that women who are pregnant are at a higher risk with Zika virus. Employers should carefully communicate this specific risk to everyone and be sure to not discriminate. In addition, employers can’t require a medical test to see if employees who recently traveled to affected regions have the virus. Medical tests can only be required if there’s an imposed threat on the workplace – Zika virus has not become a threat at this point.

According to the CDC, people typically infected with Zika virus won’t have symptoms or will only have mild symptoms.

The most common symptoms of Zika are:

  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Joint pain
  • Conjunctivitis (red eyes)

Other symptoms include:

  • Muscle pain
  • Headache

Zika is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected. Symptoms of Zika are similar to other viruses spread through mosquito bites, like dengue and chikungunya.

As an employer, you should be doing the following to take a proactive approach against Zika virus:

  • Ensure that supervisors, and all potentially exposed workers, are aware of the symptoms of Zika.
  • Train workers to seek medical evaluation if they develop symptoms of Zika.
  • Ensure that workers receive prompt and appropriate medical evaluation and follow-up after suspected exposure to Zika virus. If the exposure falls under OSHA’s BBP standard (29 CFR 1910.1030), employers must comply with medical evaluation and follow-up requirements in the standard.
  • Consider options for granting sick leave during the infectious period. The CDC’s website has a great outline on tips for employers and employees during the first week of Zika virus illness.

Fed: Modest Economic Growth; Shortage of Staffing Talent

September 8th, 2016

Reports from the 12 districts of the Federal Reserve suggest that national economic activity continued to expand at a modest pace from July through late August, according to the Federal Reserve Board’s latest report on regional economies (known as the “beige book”). Most districts reported a modest or moderate pace of overall growth. Manufacturing activity rose slightly in most districts. Labor market conditions remained tight, with moderate payroll growth noted; employment expanded at a moderate pace. In many districts, businesses reported trouble filling job vacancies for high-skilled positions, especially for technology specialists, engineers, and selected construction workers. Staffing services businesses in most districts reported a moderate increase in activity. Contacts across the country expect moderate economic growth in the coming months.


Economic activity continued to increase in the district, although there were scattered signs of slowing growth. Most manufacturing contacts said sales and revenues had increased from a year ago. Business activity in the district’s staffing services industry was mixed—year-to-year revenues were up for a majority of responding firms, with increases ranging from 3% to 30%, but several contacts reported seasonally slow business in the summer. Respondents observed a tight labor market with short supply and strong demand, the latter evidenced by an unusually high number of job postings. They attributed the lack of labor supply to low unemployment and skills mismatch in the labor market, as well as attractive salaries in permanent positions. Looking forward, most firms remained optimistic, though some cited concern over the upcoming November election. They expect continued labor shortages and strong labor demand in the coming months.

New York

There was little to no economic growth in the district since the previous report. Manufacturers reported that business activity was flat; service-sector businesses said that activity declined. The labor market remained tight. Manufacturers and service firms reported little change in staffing levels; service firms scaled back hiring plans in recent weeks, and manufacturers expect staffing levels to be steady to lower in the months ahead. One major New York City employment firm reported that hiring activity remained brisk during the usually slow summer months. Two other firms in the district reported that demand for workers has been steady, at strong levels.


Aggregate business activity in the district grew slightly, but a bit slower than the modest pace reported during the previous period. Manufacturing contacts reported that overall activity had changed little. General activity fell and then rose during the period, orders rose and then fell, and shipments increased throughout the six weeks. Along with these offsetting trends, firms reported that the number of employees and the average employee work hours continued to fall. Overall hiring slowed. Staffing firms reported a modest increase in activity, manufacturers continued to report job cuts, and other sectors noted mixed trends. Firms expect moderate growth over the next six months—a little higher than they reported for the previous period.


Aggregate business activity in the district grew at a modest pace. Manufacturing output increased, though at a slow rate. Commercial builders reported some weakening in the industry’s strong pace of growth but said they expect that it will be a short-term event. Payrolls were little changed on balance over the period. Job gains in construction and banking were offset by losses in manufacturing and freight hauling. Staffing firms noted an increase in the number of job openings and placements, especially for temporary positions. Wage pressures were most evident in the construction and retail sectors across skill levels.


Economic growth in the district slowed. Manufacturing activity was mixed, but firms’ expectations for the next six months were optimistic, and manufacturing employment continued to rise. Commercial leasing increased moderately. Revenues rose somewhat faster at services firms. In the service sector, more retailers were hiring; other firms indicated steady labor demand. The demand for labor increased modestly for workers across all skill levels since the previous report. Turnover rates increased, particularly in entry-level positions. A staffing services firm in Maryland said that some employers were raising starting wages to attract new entry-level workers and to retain existing employees.


According to reports from businesses across the district, economic activity expanded at a modest pace from July through mid-August. The outlook among contacts remained optimistic, as most expect higher growth over the remainder of the year. Manufacturers noted that activity increased slightly since the previous report. Business contacts continued to describe a tightening labor market, with challenges finding workers to fill open positions, particularly in fields that require high skill levels. As a result, contacts from staffing firms noted that demand for recruitment services remained steady. Across the district, firms reported little evidence of wage pressure, and labor costs were generally well contained.


Growth in economic activity in the district picked up to a moderate pace, and contacts expect growth to remain moderate over the next six to 12 months. Business spending and manufacturing production grew at a moderate rate. Hiring continued at a modest rate, and contacts said they expected it to strengthen to a moderate pace in the next six to 12 months. Contacts also indicated that competition was growing for lower-skilled workers. Wage pressures were steady overall, with greater pressure for high-skilled occupations than for low-skilled occupations. Nonwage labor costs were little changed. Staffing firms reported no change in billable hours and difficulty filling orders at the wages employers are willing to pay.

St. Louis

Economic conditions in the district improved slightly. Manufacturing activity has been mixed, while activity in the service sector has been positive. Contacts in manufacturing, construction, and wholesale trade continued to report difficulties in finding skilled or qualified candidates to fill job vacancies, either because of a shortage of applicants or because candidates lack the necessary skills. Employers continued to report modest hiring, although with ongoing difficulties finding qualified workers, and wage pressures remain strong. A majority of contacts reported that nominal wages were higher relative to the same time last year, and some reported employment was higher or slightly higher. Contacts expect similar trends to persist over the next quarter. Several firms that provide business support services, information technology services, and education services announced plans to build new facilities and hire new employees.


The district’s economy grew modestly overall since the previous report. Growth was noted in commercial real estate and professional services. Activity in energy and manufacturing was steady, but commercial construction slowed from high levels. Wage pressures were moderate. Employment grew moderately in spite of tight labor availability—separate call centers in Montana and South Dakota announced plans in late summer to hire new workers over the coming months. However, not all companies have been able to procure needed labor. Hours billed at a Minneapolis-St. Paul staffing firm fell from June through mid-August, which the owner said was “nearly 100% due to lack of available workers.”

Kansas City

Economic activity in the district was largely flat, although expectations remained mostly positive. District manufacturing firms reported modest declines in activity, but expectations for future activity remained positive. Professional and high-tech firms reported moderate increases in activity. Energy activity edged higher from low levels on expectations of higher prices, and the commercial real estate market strengthened slightly. Expectations for the commercial real estate market were for continued moderate expansion. Wages continued to grow modestly in most industries, with some labor shortages reported for selected skilled positions.


Economic activity in the district expanded slightly. Manufacturing activity was flat to up. Reports of employment changes were mixed, and prices held steady. Demand for nonfinancial services increased. Staffing services firms said demand picked up, particularly in Dallas, and a slight uptick was seen in Houston as well. Reports of hiring were scattered among service sector companies, with staffing firms adding employees and hiring continuing among leisure and hospitality firms. Several contacts noted a tight labor market for health care professionals, and labor constraints in the construction sector were ongoing. Outlooks were generally positive but cautious, with the upcoming presidential election driving some of the uncertainty.

San Francisco

Economic activity in the district continued to grow at a moderate pace. Overall price inflation remained limited, while upward wage pressures intensified. Manufacturing activity changed little—contacts reported that capacity utilization rates remained slightly low. Activity in the business services sector grew at a moderate pace. Shortages of raw materials and labor somewhat constrained growth in construction activity in some parts of the district. In the broader transportation sector, delivery volumes continued to grow at a brisk pace, particularly for ecommerce. Growing demand for highly skilled workers and technology specialists fueled strong wage growth in the technology, banking, and health care IT sectors. Shortages of physicians and nurses continued to push up wages in the health care industry. Increased demand and the implementation of minimum wage laws in some parts of the district increased wages for lower-skill workers.