OVERNIGHT REGULATION: A big win for big labor?

Welcome back to OVERNIGHT REGULATION, your daily destination for all the latest regulatory and enforcement news pouring out of the federal apparatus – and cheat sheet for tomorrow’s emerging storylines. Click here to sign up for the newsletter: http://bit.ly/1pc6tau

Now, let’s talk about regs.

 

THE BIG STORY

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Big Labor is celebrating a major victory with the National Labor Relations Board ruling that a small group of employees at a Macy's store in Massachusetts can organize a so-called "micro-union" without the consent of the rest of their colleagues.

Retailers were baffled by the NLRB's decision, saying this will allow unions to "gerrymander a workplace" by "cherry-picking" only the employees who are most likely to organize and ignoring everyone else.

"Recognizing individual groups of employees that work in the same store as unique bargaining units is nonsensical and impractical," said David French, a lobbyist with the National Retail Federation. http://j.mp/1nVKyx0

But the fight between business and labor groups is only just beginning.

Here's a look at what could happen next:

-NLRB election: Macy's cosmetics and fragrances employees will now vote on whether to form a union. The United Food and Commercial Workers union successfully petitioned the NLRB for the right to represent these workers, but the workers still get to choose whether they want to be represented at all. This vote will likely take place at some point over the next few weeks.

-Federal court: If the Macy's workers decide to organize, but the store chooses not to recognize their union, the case could make its way to a federal appeals court, such as the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. 

-Supreme Court: Last year, a federal appeals court upheld a similar NLRB decision known as Specialty Healthcare. If another appeals court were to decide differently, the high court may decide to weigh in on micro-unions.

  

ON TAP FOR THURSDAY:

Congress is in session, as the House and the Senate look to finish out the legislative workweeks before lawmakers scamper back to their home states and districts.

President Obama, meanwhile, will return to the blistering Beltway after a two-day jaunt to the Golden State.

The House Rules Committee will meet to consider legislation to initiate a lawsuit challenging Obama’s executive action to delay the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate. http://j.mp/1nVNJF3

The House Oversight Committee will mark up a host of bills, including the “Searching for and Cutting Regulations that are Unnecessarily Burdensome (SCRUB) Act of 2014.” http://j.mp/1sTFW2g

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) and Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) will hold a presser to mark the fifth anniversary of the last time Congress raised the minimum wage. The event comes as Democrats continue their push for a national hike of the wage to $10.10 an hour.

  

TOMORROW'S REGS TODAY

The Obama administration will publish 134 new regulations, proposed rules, notices and other administrative actions in Wednesday's edition of the Federal Register.

Highlights include:

-The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will issue new rules for hydropower companies.

FERC plans to relax the application requirements for hydropower companies that previously had to submit project maps and drawings on outdated technology such as in microfilm format on aperture cards.

But the new rules change this requirement to account for changes in technology that will make them easier to comply with.

"These amendments modernize the regulations to reflect technological advances and relieve burdens placed on applicants and licensees," FERC wrote. http://j.mp/1rMch8z

-The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) may expand the tire identification number system to account for a growing number of manufacturers. The system is used to track vehicle tires back to their manufacturers in the event of a recall. http://j.mp/1pctl3M

-The Treasury Department will issue new rules for federal agencies that use an electronic network known as the Automated Clearing House to process financial transactions. Businesses and the government both use this system to process credit and debit card payments. http://j.mp/1rCaKo1

-The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will fix minor errors made in an ObamaCare regulation that governs the exchange and insurance markets for 2015 and beyond. http://j.mp/1odJDwQ

-The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) will issue new rules for freight ships that carry cargo and dispatch shipments overseas. The changes include new licensing requirements, among other things. http://j.mp/1kVINA5

 

NEWS RIGHT NOW

BARNEY’S BACK: Former House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank returned to his old stomping grounds to testify in defense of his namesake law - the landmark Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. But the panel is under new management and Frank faced harsh criticism from majority Republicans. http://j.mp/WDPYXU

OIL TRAINS:  The Obama administration is moving forward strict rules for railway safety largely aimed at safeguarding shipments of crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken shale formation. http://j.mp/1kc49hU

REVOLVING DOOR? Commodity Futures Trading Commission commissioner Scott O’Malia’s plans to leave the agency for an industry job has sparked a mixture of concern and criticism: http://j.mp/1kcM7fo

BATTLE BREWING: The banking industry is clashing with the Obama administration over forthcoming regulations that are intended to protect college students from excessive bank fees. http://j.mp/1neGFbe

EPA ASSAILED: EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy sought to defend the agency against GOP criticism of proposed new rules to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants. http://j.mp/WEbYSK

HOUSING FRAUD: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) are taking action against dozens of companies that they allege falsely promised to help distressed homeowners prevent foreclosure and lower their monthly payments. http://j.mp/1pdgst7

GET SMART! Advocates of “smart” cars say federal regulators must listen more closely to developers’ concerns to allow emerging technologies to hit the roadways:http://j.mp/1pdgst7

SURVEY SAYS: A new poll finds support in the business community for the EPA’s proposed “Waters of the United States” rule. http://j.mp/1pcz2hZ

DRUG APPROVAL: The Food and Drug Administration has approved a second oxycodone-based painkiller designed to be an abuse deterrent: http://j.mp/1jW99qo

 

BY THE NUMBERS:

5: The number of years that have passed since Congress last raised the federal minimum wage.

14: Percent that the cost of child care has risen in that time, according to figures cited by proponents of another increase.

21: Increase in percentage of mass transit fares since 2009.

10: Percent that rent has gone up in the same period.

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

"The American people run this country — you don't run this country," – Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) to McCarthy during a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing.

 

We’ll endeavor to stay on top of these and other stories throughout the week, so check The Hill’s Regulation page early and often for the latest. And send any comments, complaints or regulatory news tips our way, via bgoad@thehill.com or tdevaney@thehill.com. And follow us at @ben_goad and @timdevaney.