Alexander to Fall Labor Conference: Creating Lasting Impact in 2017 Will Require Legislation

December 02, 2016

This week, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) told the Association's Fall Labor and Employment Relations Conference that, as President-elect Trump takes office, "Probably the area you'll see more rapid change is in labor... and with the Congressional Review Act, we'll have some options," emphasizing in this and in other areas the need to pass legislation in order to achieve lasting impact despite a political environment in which "the well has been so poisoned that it's hard to do."  He also discussed the possibility of quickly appointing two new members to the National Labor Relations Board and thereby shifting the balance from a Democratic to a Republican majority, saying that the Senate can hold hearings on nominations President-elect Trump makes before he is sworn into office.  Other key moments:

  • In kicking off the conference, John Steele,  Senior Vice President, Human Resources, HCA Inc., who chairs our Labor Relations Advisory Board, counseled: "As thought leaders in this area, it is incumbent upon us to also look beyond mere reversals of offensive regulations.  We need to think more broadly about the future of the workplace, how existing policies match up with it, and what positive proactive steps we can take to achieve a workplace policy regime that enables our companies to grow and compete in a dynamic global marketplace."

  • Along those lines, Pitney Bowes Executive Vice President and CHRO Johnna Torsone, who chairs our Employment Rights Committee, led a discussion of the Association’s Workplace 2020 Initiative.

  • Former SEIU President Andrew Stern shared his perspective on broad economic developments, saying, "Today's economy is this: the largest media company is Facebook; it creates no content. The largest transportation company is Uber, and they have no cars. The largest retailer is Alibaba, and they have very few buildings... We are coming to the greatest disruption in the world, and it's global, and the potential for instability, disorder, and inequality is huge."  Stern posited that the future of private sector unions is uncertain, and the new economic realities will require them to create a different business model.