On September 19, 2007, the House Education and Labor Committee narrowly approved pivotal legislation to change the National Labor Relations Act's (NLRA) definition of "supervisor” (H.R. 1644), the Re-Empowerment of Skilled and Professional Employees and Construction Tradeworkers (RESPECT) Act.
The RESPECT Act, which was introduced by Representative Robert Andrews (D-NJ) and supported by organized labor, would amend Section 2(11) of the NLRA by changing the definition of "supervisor." The new definition would reduce the number of employees who qualify as "supervisor," thereby increasing the number of employees who are eligible to join a union. Under current law, employees categorized as "supervisors" are unable to join a union.
The bill would remove the phrases "assign" and "responsibility to direct" from the duties associated with a "supervisor" under the NLRA, and dictate that an employee cannot be classified as a "supervisor" unless he/she engages in managerial duties "for a majority of the individual's work time."
SHRM opposed the RESPECT Act because assigning tasks and directing staff are inherent among supervisory responsibilities. Additionally, SHRM opposes the bill's requirement that an employee must be engaged in managerial duties for a "majority of the individual's work time" in order to be classified as a "supervisor." Such a requirement is arbitrary since "supervisors" often perform numerous tasks in addition to their management responsibilities.