Supervisors of the World Unite! The NLRB Tells Nurses and Professionals Which Side They Are On (Commentary)

Working USA: Journal of Labor and Society Vol. 10, p. 133, 2007

Posted: 21 Dec 2011  

Harris Freeman

Western New England University School of Law

Date Written: 2007

Abstract

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued the long awaited Oakwood Healthcare, Inc. decision, holding that registered nurses who nominally coordinate and guide the work of other nurses or health care workers are supervisory personnel who fall outside the coverage of the National Labor Relations Act. Oakwood Healthcare is a seminal NLRB decision, articulating a remarkably expansive rule for determining whether or not an employee is a supervisor. By radically redefining who is a worker and who is a boss, Oakwood Healthcare has the potential to do what no other single case in the history of the NLRB has ever done -- deprive more than eight million professionals and skilled workers of their right to join a labor union. If Oakwood Healthcare is not reversed by the federal courts or undermined by statutory labor law reform, as many as eight million professional employees and skilled workers will join the 32 million members of the U.S. workforce -- one out of four workers -- who, according to the General Accounting Office, do not have the legal right to join unions. As dissenting Board member Wilma Liebman ominously noted, Oakwood Healthcare creates a class of workers existing in a legal limbo "hav(ing) neither the genuine prerogatives of management, nor the statutory rights of ordinary employees."

Keywords: Oakwood Healthcare, registered nurses, supervisory personnel, National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), labor and employment law

Suggested Citation

Freeman, Harris, Supervisors of the World Unite! The NLRB Tells Nurses and Professionals Which Side They Are On (Commentary) (2007). Working USA: Journal of Labor and Society Vol. 10, p. 133, 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1975079

Harris Freeman (Contact Author)

Western New England University School of Law ( email )

1215 Wilbraham Road
Springfield, MA 01119
United States

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