Policy: Labor

House panel told of multiple problems with NLRB's proposed 'ambush rule' for labor union elections

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Mark Tapscott,Morning Examiner,Labor unions,Labor,NLRB

It's baaack! Big Labor's "ambush election" rule proposal from the Democratic majority that controls the National Labor Relations Board.

The NLRB majority approved the ambush rule — which dramatically shortens the time allowed for debate prior to a workplace representation election — last year, but it was struck down in court on a technicality.

So now the NLRB's pro-labor majority are giving it a second push, an issue examined in depth earlier this week in a hearing of the House Education and the Workforce Committee.

30 days to seven

The proposal would compress the current 30-day period between a union filing a petition for an election and the election to one week. It also requires employers to provide private contact information of all employees to union organizers.

During his opening statement, committee chairman Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., pointed to a long-ago statement from a former Democratic president:

"In 1959, then-Senator John F. Kennedy advocated for a 30-day period between the filing of a union election petition and the election. Was Senator Kennedy advocating delay for the sake of delay? Of course not.

"Our 35th president stated that a waiting period is 'an additional safeguard against rushing employees into an election where they are unfamiliar with the issues.'"

No free speech for you!

Steve Browne, human resources director for a small Ohio chain of pizzerias, gave the committee a lengthy list of serious flaws in the NLRB proposal, including this:

“If adopted, the proposed regulation would severely hamper an employer’s right to exercise free speech during union organizing campaigns and cripple the ability of employees to learn the employer’s perspective on the impact of collective bargaining on the workplace.”

Browne also noted that the NLRB has failed to demonstrate that workers are being harmed in any way by the current 30-day waiting period.

NLRB lacks authority

The Kline committee also heard from labor lawyer Doreen Davis that the NLRB is going beyond its authority by with the proposal:

“The NLRB’s proposed rule changes are in excess of the board’s rule-making authority, are substantively unnecessary, and are contrary to the [National Labor Relations Act].

"Moreover, the proposed rules evidence poor public policy and are likely to exacerbate, rather than alleviate, labor tension between employers and employees.”

Despite these and many other problems with the compressed time schedule, there is no indication the NLRB majority intends anything other than to implement the proposal as soon as possible.

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