Trump: Give nursing home employers a break or two — maybe more
President Trump may be struggling to kill Obamacare. But he is clearly enjoying early success in at least one area: labor policy.
And if you happen to be running a long-term care facility, the trade winds here continue to be favorable.
Consider the persuader rule. The measure was introduced last year by the Obama administration as a way to force nursing homes and other employers to report all communication with attorneys and consultants related to unionization efforts.
Operators quickly complained that the decree undermined both the attorney-client privilege and the privacy of consultant relationships ensured by the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act.
In November, a Texas federal court put the order on hold by issuing a permanent injunction. But the Trump administration appears to have its own kind of permanent injunction in mind: In June, the Labor Department called for the rule to be rescinded.
Comments will be taken until Aug. 11. While union groups will certainly protest the measure's demise, it appears that politics or litigation may soon do it in.
Then there's the National Labor Relations Board. Last week, the Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee approved the addition of two Republicans to the panel, which referees labor disputes. The inclusion of Marvin Kaplan and William Emanuel will give Republicans control of the board for the first time since George W. Bush was president. Going forward, care to guess whether management or labor will be getting a favorable thumb on the scale?
The Labor Dept. is also efforting to trim Obama-era plans to expand overtime eligibility. Moreover, the government is now supporting the employers' position in a Supreme Court case on mandatory arbitration agreements that prohibit workers from filing class-action lawsuits.
It's hardly surprising that a Republican White House would adopt a pro-business approach. And few nursing home operators are going to complain about regulatory or fiscal relief.
But there is a certain amount of irony at play here. After all, many of the people who will be negatively affected by these changes are the same folks who voted Trump into office. As returns on investments go, that payoff may leave a bit to be desired. But as the saying goes, politics makes for strange bedfellows.
Email John O'Connor at email@example.com.