Republicans: New Rule Helps Unions By Stifling Employers’ Free Speech

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

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The Department of Labor issued a final rule Wednesday requiring employers disclose who they consult for advice about labor standards and unions.

Employers opposed to workforce unionization often consult third-party advisers. This new rule will address problems of transparency, but business groups and lawmakers warn it gives unions too much power.

“This new rule will allow workers to know whether the messages they’re hearing are coming directly from their employer or from a paid, third-party consultant,” Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said in a statement Wednesday. “Full disclosure of persuader agreements gives workers the information they need to make informed choices about how they pursue their rights to organize and bargain collectively.”

Under current law, both unions and employers are required to disclose expenditures on labor-management activities, but don’t have to disclose labor-management activities discussed and implemented by outside advisers. The new rule requires outside activities must be disclosed too.

Republican lawmakers assert this new law is an unfair attack to benefit unions.

“This rule will chill employer free speech and make it harder for small business owners to navigate a host of complex labor rules,” House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman [crscore]John Kline[/crscore] said in a statement. “What the rule won’t do is impose the same harmful consequences on organized labor.”

Business groups are also fighting the new rule. The Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) has urged the department with legal comments and letters to abandon the idea since it was first proposed in 2011. ABC notes the rule will limit the ability of businesses to seek outside advice and help when it comes to labor law.

Republican lawmakers have accused federal agencies of changing regulations to benefit unions. Republican Sen. [crscore]Lamar Alexander[/crscore] and Kline have led much of the effort to stop the rule changes, but their efforts have been unsuccessful due in large part to President Barack Obama using his veto powers. Lawsuits filed against the NLRB by the business community have also been unable to stop the policy changes.

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