Steve Swirsky Quoted in “White House’s Union Organizing Team Draws Mixed Reactions”

Law360 Employment Authority

Steven M. Swirsky, Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management and Health Care & Life Sciences practices, in the firm’s New York office, was quoted in Law360 Employment Authority, in “White House's Union Organizing Team Draws Mixed Reactions,” by Kevin Stawicki. (Read the full version – subscription required.)

Following is an excerpt:

The first-ever White House task force aimed at increasing union organizing that convened earlier this month has underscored the tensions between labor and management attorneys, as they disagree about how far the federal government should go to encourage collective bargaining.

Vice President Kamala Harris hosted the first meeting of the White House task force on worker organizing and empowerment on May 13. Harris, who leads the group, told the roundtable of Cabinet secretaries that the administration will use a "whole of government" approach to consider policies and regulatory changes the federal government can pursue to increase organizing activity.

The task force also includes a number of other high-level government officials, including the chair of the counsel of economic advisers, U.S. trade representative and the national climate adviser. …

But what will the task force actually do?

It's a question whose answer lays bare some of the key tensions that divide the labor-management bar. …

Steve Swirsky of management-side firm Epstein Becker Green suggested the task force is little more than "an attempt to get attention" that is more focused on changing public opinion than actually changing labor policy.

"The goal will be to change the public dialogue on this and change perception about organizing," Swirsky said. "There has been a perceptible shift toward the favorability to unions and collective bargaining so I think this shouldn't be viewed in isolation and should be viewed as a movement type of politics of changing viewpoints."

There's also the potential for "government overreach" if the task force doesn't accomplish its goals, he said.

"The potential overreach is if you speak to something too much and you put weight behind and it doesn't produce meaningful results," Swirsky said.

With recommendations expected from the White House task force in six months, attorneys on both sides are anxiously awaiting what fruit it will bear. …

The proof of whether the task force will have any teeth will be in the report, Swirsky said.

"The key is going to be when they start releasing what their agenda is and what their work product is, where they go with it and who they enlist to support it," he said.