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What makes a boss a boss?

Marketplace Staff Oct 3, 2006

KAI RYSSDAL: The federal government has taken a stab at defining what makes a boss a boss. The supervisors in question today were nurses. But Nancy Marshall Genzer reports lots of other workers could be affected too.

NANCY MARSHALL GENZER: Nurse Linda Canny plots out schedules and helps with patient discharges, but as far as she’s concerned . . . .

LINDA CANNY:“I do not have the power to hire or fire. I do not manage a budget.”

Canny is what’s known as a charge nurse in Redmond, Washington. She insists she’s not a formal supervisor. However, the National Labor Relations Board, or NLRB, disagreed today. That’s bad news for unions, because they can’t represent supervisors. Union supporters say employers will now attempt to apply the decision to all kinds of workers.

Ross Eisenbrey of the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, says the NLRB has given employers a road map:

ROSS EISENBREY:“An employer who wants to avoid a union will use that roadmap. They’ll be able to classify employees as supervisors.”

But attorney John Lyncheski, who advises management, says the roadmap is just to clarify cases in which a worker is already straying into the management lane.a

JOHN LYNCHESKI: “The question is, if somebody is bumping up against the line from either side, it does give management a roadmap to clarify their status.”

This isn’t the end of the road, though. Unions says they’ll continue to press the issue of “who’s the boss” in the workplace and before the labor board.

In Washington, I’m Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.

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