Politics
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley speaks during the dedication of Boeing Co. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley speaks during the dedication of Boeing Co.'s $750 million final assembly plant in North Charleston, S.C. on Friday, June 10, 2011. Haley and state officials have joined hundreds of Boeing workers in North Charleston to cut the ribbon opening the company's 787 jetliner assembly plant at the center of a National Labor Relations Board dispute. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)  

Republicans, employers cry foul on new Labor Dept., NLRB rules

Photo of F. Vincent Vernuccio
F. Vincent Vernuccio
Director of Labor Policy, Mackinac Center for Public Policy

Republicans and employers across the country are calling foul in what is seen as a double whammy from the Obama administration this week.

The Department of Labor (DOL) and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) each proposed regulations which many in the employer community believe will make it easier for unions to organize, while harming the ability of workers to make an informed decision on whether to join a union.

The first came on Monday from the DOL’s Office of Labor Management Standards (OLMS), which proposed a regulation mandating that anyone giving advice to an employer during a union election must submit a disclosure to the Department.

However, the more controversial regulation was proposed by the NLRB on Tuesday. The proposed rule would shorten the time period between when a union files for a representation election and the time the election is held. The NLRB regulation, known as “quickie elections,” would give unions a considerable advantage in organizing by giving management less time to respond to a union campaign.

In a statement issued shortly after the NLRB announcement, U.S. House Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-Minn.) said that the proposed rule was a “direct affront to the millions of Americans desperate for jobs and opportunities.” He added that it would “undermine an employer’s lawful right to communicate with his or her employees” and that “it will cripple a worker’s ability to make an informed decision” in a union election.

Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Ranking Member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
(HELP) Committee echoed this sentiment, calling the NLRB’s proposal an “outrageous assault on
America’s job creators and workers.” (Sen. Graham calls ethics complaint in Boeing-NLRB case ridiculous)

He said that “an open and transparent process that will allow workers to weigh both the pros and cons of joining a union should be the goal, instead of speeding up the process to keep workers from making informed decisions.”

The current unionization process allows a union to have an infinite amount of time to drum up support from workers. Often, Employers often do not even know that a union is trying to organize them until a majority of employees sign cards. During the election process an employer has about 45 to 60 days to make its case to workers, after the union has likely campaigned for months or even years.

The Associated Press notes that, “The new plan could cut [the election] time by days or even weeks — depending on the case — by simplifying procedures, deferring litigation, and setting shorter deadlines for hearings and filings.”

In his dissent from the proposed rule, the lone Republican Member of the NLRB, Brian E. Hayes, said that the quickie election procedure would result in elections lasting only 10 to 21 days.

To illustrate this process, imagine if union elections were regular elections for a political office. Candidate A campaigned for six months or longer, and then announces an election when he thinks he can win. Candidate B, however, may get no more than 60 days to make his case.

Now imagine if the Federal Election Commission announced that Candidate B would only have 10 to 21 days to campaign. The likelihood of candidate B winning would be very slim. (Issa condemns NLRB on Boeing dispute)

The DOL regulation proposes to change the definition of advice given to businesses dealing with union campaigns. The Labor Management and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) requires unions to report how they spend the money they receive as dues from their members.