In a dramatic shift from its prior interpretations, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has released a new interpretation of its regulations allowing outside union representatives to accompany employees during OSHA inspections.
Previously, employees in unionized and non-unionized workplaces could designate a representative to accompany the inspector during “walkaround” inspections. The representative typically had to be an employee or be from a union representing the workers. No more.
Under OSHA’s new rules, now, even in non-unionized workplaces, the employees may choose a union representative to attend the inspection, as long as the employees designate the representative.
It’s largely being viewed among management as an opportunity for union organizers to effectively persuade employees to form a union, and could give organizers a chance to more effectively access and recruit employees where the trend has been to restrict on-premises solicitation.