Bill would narrow labor's definition of 'supervisor'

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More nurses would be eligible for union membership under new legislation introduced in the Senate. The bill (S.B. 969) would strip two terms from the National Labor Relations Act definition of supervisor: "assign" and "responsibility to direct."

The measure comes on the heels of a highly touted National Labor Relations Board decision in October that ruled some hospital charge nurses were supervisors but also found that some nursing home charge nurses were not. While most of the publicity focused on the acute-care side of the ruling, long-term care observers predicted it would not have much of an impact on their business.

The new bill, "The Re-empowerment of Skilled and Professional Employees and Construction Tradeworkers Act," however, could have a significant impact on LTC union-member eligibility. It stipulates that an employee would have to meet the act's supervisor status criteria for "a majority of the individual's work time" to be exempt from union organizing efforts.

The bill was introduced Friday by three Democratic Senators. Richard Durbin (D-IL), Edward Kennedy (MA) and Christopher Dodd (CT) introduced the measure on Friday. Reps. Rob Andrews (D-NJ) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) have already unveiled a companion bill in the House.