Ninth Circuit Upends Idaho’s Anti-Union Law

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

(CN) – Since federal labor law controls what workers do with their pay, Idaho cannot block union contractors from using portions of wages as a subsidy to better compete for work, the Ninth Circuit ruled Wednesday.

Construction unions developed the strategy, known as “job-targeting” or “market-recovery” programs, as the percentage of workers they represent continued to decline.

The program involve unions collects funds from workers it represents and using those funds to subsidize bids by union contractors, “allowing the contractors to lower their labor costs and so more effectively compete with non-union contractors,” a ruling from the Ninth Circuit says today.

When Idaho banned the practice with a law called the Fairness in Contracting Act, unions filed suit for an injunction.

Before the law could take effect in 2011, Chief U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill ruled that the law conflicts with Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

An appellate panel with the Ninth Circuit in Portland, Ore., affirmed today.

In addition to private jobs, Idaho’s law would apply to federal contractor jobs that are governed by the Davis-Bacon Act, a federal statute that determines labor and pay standards on federal projects.

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