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Byrne Statement: Markup of H. J. Res. 87

This resolution is about standing up for the rights of workers and employers. The Obama administration has continually put the interests of union leaders ahead of what’s best for hardworking Americans. It’s disappointing, because working families are struggling in today’s economy, which we recently heard is growing at an anemic rate of only 0.5 percent.
 
Instead of focusing on ways to grow the economy and empower more Americans with opportunities to move up the economic ladder, the administration has been working around the clock to check off their Big Labor wish list. The latest example is the Department of Labor’s “persuader” rule, which radically alters long-standing policies employers must follow when communicating with their employees about union-related issues. The well-established “advice” exemption of the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act has been in effect during the Kennedy administration, the Johnson administration, the Carter administration, and the Clinton administration. But now, decades later, the Obama administration is working around Congress and unilaterally rewriting the law.
 
As someone who has practiced labor law, I know firsthand how complicated and confusing federal labor policies are. I’m from Southwest Alabama, where we don’t have many large employers, but we have many small businesses. When faced with a union-organizing campaign, most of these small companies don’t have HR departments or in-house attorneys to turn to for advice, so they find someone like me to help them understand what the law is.
 
However, the invasive and costly requirements under this new rule will severely limit the ability of small businesses in Alabama and across the country to get the legal advice they need. They’ll be stripped of their confidential attorney-client relationship and lose their fundamental right to counsel, and as a result, they’ll be forced to fend for themselves. Many small businesses, despite their best efforts, will inadvertently get tripped up while trying to navigate a maze of labor rules on their own—I’ve seen this with many clients over the years who are simply trying to understand and follow the law.
 
If employers cannot obtain basic legal advice during union elections, many will reluctantly choose to not say anything at all to their employees. And that’s exactly what unions and the administration want under this extreme and partisan rule—to silence employers. But who loses in this environment? America’s workers do. They’ll be deprived of the information they need before they cast an important vote on whether or not to join a union. Workers will hear from union organizers, but they won’t hear the other side of the story—how this vote will impact their paychecks, benefits, and other personal matters. And again, that’s precisely what the administration and their labor allies want. They aren’t interested in fair and democratic union elections. Instead, they are interested in tilting the balance of power toward union bosses.
 
As Members of Congress, we don’t have to sit back while the administration tramples on the rights of employers and employees. We have the power, and the responsibility, to block this harmful rule under the Congressional Review Act. And we have a choice, to stand with Big Labor or to stand with America’s workers. I urge my colleagues to stand with America’s workers today and support this resolution.