Republican Senators Go After Federal Labor Board

Connor D. Wolf | Reporter

Republican senators took a huge step Wednesday to stop a labor board rule which opponents say unfairly benefits unions.

The Senate voted on a resolution to overturn a National Labor Relations Board rule which shortens the amount of time between when a union files to represent workers at a company and when the elections are held. Opponents, who dubbed the decision the “Ambush Election” rule, argue it will deprive employers of their right to explain the impacts of unionizing.

“The rule was finalized in December to shorten the length of time in which a labor union certification election is held—currently a median 38 days—to as little as 11 days,” a press release from  the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions said. “The senators introduced the resolution under the Congressional Review Act last month, and it is the first step in halting implementation of this rule.”

The resolution was brought forth by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Lamar Alexander and Sen. Mike Enzi.

“The NLRB’s ‘ambush’ rule is aimed at enriching political bosses at the expense of middle class workers,” McConnell said in a statement. “Republicans think workers should have the right to make an informed decision when casting their ballot in a union election.”

Several business groups have already come out in support of the resolution. Since the rule was first announced, businesses and other groups warned of the impact it could have.

“The NLRB needs a reminder that it should protect the right of American workers to join unions—not use its regulatory power to manipulate that choice—and today’s vote in the Senate to overturn the NLRB’s ‘ambush election’ rule sends that signal,” Randel K. Johnson, with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, declared in a statement.

“This rule is a tool to facilitate union elections, not to protect workers, and shines a spotlight on the Board’s focus, which is to increase union membership rolls at almost any cost,” Johnson noted. “It overturns well-settled policy, unfairly favors unions, strips employers of basic legal rights, threatens worker privacy, and has left the employer community with no recourse other than to sue.

The National Association of Manufacturers, which has already joined other business groups to challenge the rule in a lawsuit, also praised the resolution.

“This vote sends a clear message to the Obama Administration that Congress will not stand idly by while the NLRB’s aggressive agenda seeks to uproot longstanding labor policy,” Joe Trauger, the vice president of human resources policy at NAM, detailed in a statement.

“Manufacturers across the United States applaud this rebuke of an ‘ambush elections’ rule that robs employees of the ability to gather the facts needed to make an important and informed decision like whether or not to join a union and denies employers proper time to prepare,” Trauger continued. “Manufacturers are tired of being the target of misinformed federal policy and unnecessarily restrictive regulations.”

The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace legal strategist Josh Ulman noted, “The NLRB’s ‘ambush’ election rule is a flagrant attack on American workers. The Final Rule violates both the spirit and the letter of the National Labor Relations Act and other legal requirements, at the expense of rights that are critical to workplace democracy, such as protected speech and employee free choice.”

“The protection of fundamental workplace rights is a critical issue which CDW will continue to fight for on the behalf of employees and employers,” Ulman concluded.

Labor board officials have defended the new rule by noting it will help streamline the process for resolving representation disputes.

“I am heartened that the Board has chosen to enact amendments that will modernize the representation case process and fulfill the promise of the National Labor Relations Act,” NLRB Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce said in a statement. “Simplifying and streamlining the process will result in improvements for all parties. With these changes, the Board strives to ensure that its representation process remains a model of fairness and efficiency for all.”

The rule was approved by board members Pearce, Kent Hirozawa and Nancy Schiffer with Philip Miscimarra and Harry Johnson III dissenting.

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