WASHINGTON, D.C. | April 9, 2014 -
Thank you, Chairman Kline, and thank you for convening today’s markup of H.R. 4321, the Employee Privacy Protection Act. In just a few moments I will address the technical change included in the substitute amendment. Before I do, I think it’s important to outline why this commonsense legislation is necessary.
I understand some are so wedded to the board’s destructive ambush election rule that they refuse to consider any alternative. That’s unfortunate, because H.R. 4321 will help modernize the union election process in a way that doesn’t pose additional privacy risks to workers and their families.
Under current election procedures, employers have seven days from the date an election is ordered to provide the National Labor Relations Board a list of names and home addresses for all employees eligible to vote in the election. This process has been around for decades, long before email and smartphones were available in virtually every household. It is woefully outdated and should be brought into the 21st century.
But more importantly, the current process is dangerous. The safety and well-being of our families is one of our greatest concerns. No doubt many of us have been shocked and annoyed to hear a knock at the door during dinner time or after the kids have gone to bed. Standing on the other side of the door could be a campaign worker trying to get out the vote or a local home improvement company trying to drum up business. Regardless of who it is, we all want to ensure our families are safe.
Unfortunately, some workers have lost that sense of security. Press reports continue to highlight cases where labor leaders have taken extreme measures to enforce solidarity with the union. In 2012, SEIU tried to organize human service workers at a nonprofit operating group homes in the northeast. According to the Cape Cod Times, the union was accused of “intimidating and misleading employees on the job and tracking them down at home.” A union in Missouri was accused of using aggressive tactics against employees of a local construction company. The company’s owner said the union “started making threats of bodily harm, started following me and my wife to our home, started following my employees to their homes.”
These are two examples, but even one example is too many. Republicans agree the current process can be modernized. However, the board’s approach would move our country in the wrong direction, exposing workers to more acts of intimidation, coercion, and even violence. And remarkably, the board would force employers to be complicit in this type of extreme and unlawful behavior.
Under the board’s ambush election rule, employers would have just two days to provide union organizers with employees’ names, home addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, and work schedules. This would ensure unions can contact employees not just at home, but at work, on the way to the store, leaving church, or picking up the kids from soccer practice.
Working families deserve better than this. Are all unions out to threaten workers? Of course not. Is protecting workers from union intimidation a valid concern? Absolutely. The Employee Privacy Protection Act doesn’t stop unions from reaching out to workers; it simply says it’s up to each individual worker to decide how the union contacts him or her. Under the legislation, employers would have seven days to provide a list of employee names and one additional piece of contact information chosen by the employee. The amendment in the nature of a substitute includes a technical change to clarify only one piece of information is required.
Let’s empower workers to control their personal privacy during union organizing campaigns by supporting the amendment and the underlying bill. I yield back the balance of my time.
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