Labor Law Guy

Personnel Concepts Offers a Bailout for the Rest of Us

Posted in Federal Labor Law, Random Musings, State Labor Law by laborlawguy on March 24, 2009

Personnel Concepts, suppliers of labor law compliance kits and posters, is busy bailing out the companies of America with huge discounts (check the Web) and innovative new products to keep up with the Obamaic shifts in workplace regulations.

One recent promotion featured a double-digit discount along with free shipping. I just checked out the PC site, and they’re shaving products up to 60 percent through this Friday. Plus, they’ve got a couple of new products to help with the recent changes from D.C.

One new product is a poster detailing pertinent provisions of the stimulus package, also known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, or ARRA. This package contains changes to HIPAA, or health record security, and COBRA, which became the feature of the second new PC product–the COBRA Premiium Reductions Poster.

So, if you need a bailout in keeping up with the D.C. reg boys, visit Personnel Concepts online by Friday. My tip of the week.

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Personnel Concepts’ Letter Not Out of Compliance?

Posted in Federal Labor Law, Random Musings, State Labor Law by laborlawguy on March 17, 2009

Personnel Concepts uses a slick mailer that tends to put the fear of Uncle Sam in its recipients, and it thus elicits strong reactions, some positive, some negative. Observers in the blogosphere have termed PC’s Final Notice too “tricky” or “deceiving” and even “out of compliance.” The latter is a cute take on words since the company’s business is helping other businesses stay in labor law notification compliance.

But at least one marketing hancho finds the Final Notice “brilliant” for what it accomplishes. The person never reveals his or her name but goes to great lengths with legal disclaimers. So the site all looks quite on the up and up.

The site is called Eyeing Marketing, and here’s what it says about Personnel Concepts and its marketing letter:

So I read the entire letter, which seemed like it came from the government (even though it wasn’t, but you get the point) telling me about the laws and the reasons why I needed to purchase the Massachusetts and Federal Law Posters from them, etc.   This damn marketing piece is BRILLIANT.  Personnel Concepts was able to design a piece and incorporate the “fear factor” very well into their promotion…..BRAVO!!!

If you’ve never gotten a copy of the Final Notice, you can read it here.

Dems Looking to Modify the Employee Free Choice Act?

Posted in Federal Labor Law, State Labor Law by laborlawguy on March 12, 2009

The business-feared, loved-by-unions Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) was introduced in both the House and the Senate on Tuesday. Passage by the House seems a done deal, but in the Senate success hinges on getting 60 votes to choke off a filibuster.

With 58 (and potentially 59 with Al Franken) Democratic Senators, invoking cloture wouldn’t seem like such a high hurdle, but a handful of Senate Dems is having reservations about EFCA while Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who voted for EFCA the last time around, is more hesitant in the midst of a re-election tussle.

Also, consider this: The Senate bill listed 40 co-sponsors, six fewer than in 2007. The House bill had 223 co-sponsors, compared with 230 co-signers on an earlier version of the legislation.

Already, there’s talk that the proposed law might be modified, and some have even speculated on a “grand bargain” in which the card-check provision is stripped out but the other portions are left intact.

Card check is what opponents like to call the EFCA since the law would allow workers to unionize once 50 percent plus one of them sign an authorizing card. A secret ballot would no longer be required but would be an option–at the workers’ choosing, not the employers’.

Even with card check out, the EFCA would still create many headaches for businesses. Its other  provisions increase penalties for interfering with union organizing efforts and also mandate binding arbitration if union and company can’t agree on a contract. In fact, the final result of the arbitration could be a dictated contract forced down the company’s throat!

Representative Joe Sestak (D.-PA) has already introduced an alternative piece of labor legislation–the National Labor Relations Modernization Act–that basically removes card check but leaves the other provisions in.

Senator Specter, who voted with the Democrats to end the filibuster when the EPCA was first introduced in 2007, is no longer a sure “yes” vote. He’s facing an extremely tough primary opponent, Representative Pat Toomey, who vociferously opposes EFCA and almost beat him last time around. Plus, Specter himself authored a paper last summer for a Harvard symposium, in which he recounted horror stories of union lies and intimidation employed to trick and force workers into signing authorization cards.

At any rate, as Personnel Concepts has reported in its white paper on labor law under Obama, the battle over EFCA should be grand drama.

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The Road to ‘Armageddon’ Starts Today

Posted in Federal Labor Law by laborlawguy on March 10, 2009

Sources at Personnel Concepts indicate that the much-feared-by-business Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) will be introduced in the House of Representatives today.

Well, nothing new here. EFCA made it through the House’s 435 members once before and passed with flying colors, but its fate in the Senate may be another matter altogether. Just today, the Wall Street Journal reported that “Labor Bill Faces Threat in Senate” because of some suddenly wavering Democratic support.

Whether this wavering is just posturing or temporary remains to be seen, but EFCA does require 60 votes in the Senate to pass. Without 60 votes, a bill can be filibustered into extinction, which is exactly what the Republicans would gladly do to this piece of legislation.

EFCA, also called “card check” because it does away with the requirement for secret-ballot unionization votes and makes certification by majority signatures possible, has come under a withering attack from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (which called it “Armageddon”) and other business groups. Even Obama supporter and billionaire investor Warren Buffett came out against EFCA in a CNBC interview yesterday.

Time will tell what happens to EFCA, but I’m sure the folks at Personnel Concepts will keep us up to date with its news alerts.

Personnel Concepts Jumps on the White Paper Bandwagon

Posted in Random Musings by laborlawguy on March 5, 2009

I’ve always liked the BLR (Business and Legal Reports) site because it features  informative, lengthy pieces that go by the prevailing title of “white papers.” However, when I did an on-site  search of BLR’s white papers the other day, I think the most current one I saw was from the summer of 2008, though I may have missed some in my search.

BLR also doesn’t always broach some of the regulatory topics affecting employers like the ADAAA (Americans With Disabilities Amendments Act, which took effect this Jan. 1) and the FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act, which was restructured this Jan. 16).

That’s why I was happy to see that Personnel Concepts has added its own white paper section, and the section already contains lengthy, analytical pieces on both of those laws, as well as good stuff on other issues affecting employers. And if you wanted the lowdown on Lilly Ledbetter, that’s there too.

If you’re a labor law junkie like me, these kinds of resources are nice to have available.

Personnel Concepts and the Dreaded ‘Final Notice’

Posted in Federal Labor Law, Random Musings, State Labor Law by laborlawguy on February 8, 2009

Personnel Concepts claims to be the pioneer in the “labor law poster compliance industry.” I have no idea if that claim is correct, but I’ll take them at their word.

I’ve used Personnel Concepts for employment posters and labor law information for quite some time, so I’ve never been on the receiving end of one of their infamous Final Notices, letters sent out to prospects advising them they could be fined if their labor law posters aren’t up to date. From what I understand, these mailings look like letters coming from the IRS or some government agency.  Scary.

Some recipients have freaked out and written about the Final Notice online. Some of the comments seem downright comical, like they’re taking mass mailings too seriously. I know on some of my snail mail subscriptions to magazines, I get “final notices” to renew frequently. If I don’t want to renew, I just heave them.

Another common criticism I’ve read is that these posters are available for free from different government agencies. This is all true. However, finding which posters you are required to display is a really time-consuming job. Try going to OSHA.gov and figure out what your business needs to post. It ain’t easy.

Also, even when you find the posters, they’re just electronic files. So unless you want to just tack a bunch of easily destructible and defaceable laser printouts on your wall, you’ll have to aggregate them in some way and then protect them behind glass or some such. Places like Personnel Concepts put all the posters together in both a logical and easy-to-read combination that is available already laminated. Voila, instant compliance.

Personnel Concepts will also keep you advised when any of the individual posters changes on your overall poster. For instance, this past January some 12 states changed their minimum wage laws, so if your business was in one of those states, you needed to update that portion of your labor law poster. PC will warn you in advance and offer you an update. If you follow all their advice, they’ll even guarantee to pay your fines should you be zapped for not having your posters up to date.

Anyway, I totally sympathize with people who get a chill up their spine when they receive a “Final Notice” and confuse it with a government mailing. Like I said, I’ve never received one, but I have had fairly good success using Personnel Concepts.

I suggest you take a view at the Personnel Concepts Web site if you’re in business and want to stay current with all the government laws and regulations affecting you.

POSTSCRIPT: Since this was written, Personnel Concepts did indeed end its use of the Final Notice.