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ABC Sept. 19 sharply criticized pending regulatory proposals from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in response to a hearing held by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions. The hearing, titled, “The Future of Union Organizing,” and ABC’s letter highlighted the Obama administration’s efforts to eliminate employer involvement in the union representation process.

In its letter, ABC cited the failure to pass the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA, or “card check”) as the primary motivation behind the DOL “persuader” and NLRB “ambush” elections proposals, both of which are expected to be finalized soon. In addition, ABC expressed concerns that the rules will work hand-in-glove against employers and employees. 

“If allowed to take effect, these proposals will create an alarming imbalance in workplace labor relations that will give union organizers an unfair advantage, and infringe on employers’ and employees’ rights,” said ABC Vice President of Government Affairs Geoff Burr.  

Originally proposed in 2011, the DOL and NLRB rules are highly controversial and have been strongly opposed by ABC and its members. The persuader rule severely narrows long-standing reporting exemptions for employers and labor relations experts, and redefines “advice.”  If the rule is finalized, employers’ rights to free speech, freedom of association and legal counsel will be infringed, and employees’ collective right to obtain balanced information to decide whether or not to be represented by a union will be significantly limited.

In addition, the rule would place unreasonable burdens on small businesses and discourage them from obtaining much-needed legal assistance before and during union representation elections. The ambush rule, if finalized, would unreasonably speed up timeframes for holding union elections, giving employers as little as 10 days to consult with outside advisors about how to lawfully comply with various requirements under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and communicate with employees about the advantages and disadvantages of being in a union. 

“ABC vehemently opposes any current or future policy or regulation that deprives employees of valuable, balanced information regarding the union representation process by obstructing employers’ ability to communicate on the subject of union organizing,” Burr said. “Viewed jointly, the NLRB and DOL proposals will rapidly speed up the union election process while simultaneously making it harder for employers to obtain expert advice.”

ABC will continue to monitor the progress of these rulemakings and advocate for their full withdrawal. 

In an upcoming webinar, ABC General Counsel Maury Baskin will provide insight on what merit shop contractors should expect to see in the next few months now that the NLRB has a fully operational board and the DOL has a new secretary. For more information and to register, click here.