Business

Dems And Businesses Battle Over Union Election Transparency Rule

REUTERS/Gary Cameron

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House lawmakers hosted a Wednesday hearing to discuss an upcoming rule that will require businesses to disclose who they consult for advice on union elections.

The Department of Labor (DOL) issued the final version of the rule Mar. 23 arguing the rule will help add transparency to workplace elections. Known as the persuader rule, Democrats have praised it for addressing problems of transparency, but Republicans and business groups argue it stifles workplace rights.

“We all perceive messages differently knowing who the speaker is,” Democratic Rep. Bobby Scott said before the hearing. “When workers are better informed about their employer’s message on union representation, the integrity of the election process is stronger. Consistent with federal law.”

Union Attorney Jonathan Newman added in his testimony it will help employees be better informed about the use of anti-union consultants. Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) and other businesses groups warned the new rule gives unions an unfair edge during unionization campaigns and will actually undermine access to information for both employers and their workers.

“If finalized, the proposal will deny employers their rights to free speech, freedom of association and legal counsel, and deprive employees of their right to obtain balanced information,” ABC stated in a letter obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation. “The rule will require complex and unprecedented levels of disclosure for attorneys, consultants, associations and other professionals.”

The letter hit the desks of lawmakers for the purposes of the hearing. The Labor-Management Reporting Disclosure Act excludes businesses from having to disclose who they seek outside help from when it poses burdensome costs to do so. The new rule would effectively eliminate that part of the federal law.

Additionally, current law requires both unions and employers to disclose expenditures on labor-management activities. Neither have to disclose labor-management activities discussed and implemented by outside advisers. The new rule imposes the disclosure requirement on businesses but not unions.

Republican lawmakers have accused federal agencies on numerous occasions of changing regulations to benefit unions. Republican Sen. [crscore]Lamar Alexander[/crscore] and Rep. [crscore]John Kline[/crscore] 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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