WASHINGTON, D.C. | November 18, 2011
House Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN) issued the following statement after the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced plans to hold a vote November 30 on controversial changes to the rules governing union elections:
"This announcement confirms what we’ve suspected all along: the Obama NLRB is determined to impose a flawed rule that will cripple American workers’ free choice. The NLRB is ignoring long-standing policies that have served to safeguard the nation’s workforce and preserve the integrity of the board’s actions. It is disturbingly clear that the board’s only concern is advancing an extreme agenda, regardless of the damage it causes our workplaces.”
The board’s announcement comes on the heels of a new letter from Board Member Brian Hayes that suggests the board may have misled the committee in response to its oversight of this ‘ambush elections’ proposal.
On October 27, Chairman Kline sent a letter to NLRB Chairman Mark Pearce requesting information about the status and development of the ambush proposal. Chairman Kline specifically asked Chairman Pearce to provide details about the board’s anticipated timeline for finalizing the rule, as well as an overview of the staff resources that have been dedicated to advancing the proposal.
On November 10, the committee received a response that, based on new information from Board Member Hayes, now raises significant questions about the board’s compliance with the committee’s oversight effort.
In his letter to Chairman Kline, Board Member Hayes states, “The central fact omitted from the November 10 response letter is that there is a timeline for anticipated actions. My colleagues are committed to issuing a final [rule] before Member Becker’s recess appointment expires at the end of the current Congressional session. Indeed, I was advised of this fact by the Board’s Chairman on the very day that the response letter was forwarded to your office… these actions would contravene long-standing Board tradition and the Board’s own internal operating rules.”
Board Member Hayes' letter goes on to detail the tremendous staff resources that have been diverted to finalize the rule, potentially in direct conflict with laws governing staff conduct. In its November 10 letter to the committee, the board failed to provide a complete response to Chairman Kline’s questions on staff work on the ambush proposal.
“The NLRB has a responsibility to respond completely and truthfully to Congressional oversight,” said Chairman Kline. “Unfortunately, the Obama NLRB has repeatedly chosen to obstruct and delay our efforts to hold them accountable. Not only was the board’s response to our October inquiry woefully incomplete, information received today raises serious questions about whether the board acted in a deliberately misleading manner. The board is not above the law and must fully comply with legitimate oversight requests.”
In light of today’s events, Chairman Kline has renewed his request for further documents and materials related to the board’s ambush election proposal.
In the coming weeks, the House of Representatives is expected to consider the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act (H.R. 3094). The legislation will roll back the NLRB’s devastating ambush election scheme by reaffirming long-standing workforce protections.
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