The Occupational Health and Safety Administration withdrew a rule last week that allowed union representatives to accompany agency officials during inspection of non-union workplaces. The withdrawl was the latest effort by the Trump administration to roll back pro-union rules put in place by the Obama administration.
Federal law allows OSHA inspectors to have worker representatives accompany them during inspections. Dubbed the "Walk Around Rule," it gives the inspectors the chance to get direct feedback from employees wothout management's involvement. The rule was orginially restricted to employees at the workplace being inspected. Starting in 2013, OSHA expanded that to include potential third parties who didn't work at the company.
Business groups opposed the rule change, saying it was designed to give union representatives access to workplaces and workers they wouldn't otherwise have. Republican lawmakers opposed it too, echoing business' concerns.
In an memo to OSHA inspectors dated April 25, the agency said the change was "unnecessary" and was withdrawing the 2013 letter that allowed it. The agency further said that the field manual for inspectors would be "revised accordingly."
"The new Department of Labor memorandum is a clear win for small businesses," said Juanita Duggan, president of the National Federation of Independent Business. "The 2013 memo gave unions a pathway to intimidate small business owners. Congress never intended that OSHA should open the door to unionization efforts. The Obama administration was on thin legal ground with their order, and we applaud the Trump administration for properly recognizing the rights of small business owners."