Committee Examines NLRB Ambush Election Rule
Members raise concerns about effect of misguided rule on workers’ ability to make informed decisions in union elections
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 5, 2014
The House Committee on Education and the Workforce, chaired by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), today held a hearing entitled, “Culture of Union Favoritism: The Return of the NLRB’s Ambush Election Rule.” During the hearing, members discussed how a proposed rule by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) would undermine long-standing rights of workers, employers, and unions.
In his opening remarks, Chairman Kline said, “For many of my colleagues, this hearing might evoke a sense of déjà vu. Not too long ago we debated a nearly identical ambush election rule proposed by the National Labor Relations Board that would stifle employers’ free speech and cripple workers’ free choice. In 2011 the House passed with bipartisan support a bill that would have protected the rights of workers, employers, and unions by reining in this radical proposal.”
“Unfortunately, as is so often the case, the Democrat Senate refused to defend our struggling workforce,” continued Chairman Kline. “This failure to act gave the Obama labor board a green light to continue its assault on America’s workplaces. As a result, the board revived its deeply misguided rule in the desperate hope it will lead to more union members.”
First proposed in 2011 and revived last February, the board’s proposal would significantly shorten the time between the filing of a union election petition and the actual election. The regulation: provides employers just seven days to find legal counsel and prepare for an election hearing with NLRB officials; forces employers to raise all concerns before the hearing and basically lose the right to raise additional concerns during the hearing; and delays answers to important questions until after workers have voted. Additionally, the proposed rule would jeopardize workers’ privacy by divulging sensitive information to union organizers.
Doreen Davis, a practicing labor and employment attorney, testified, “The NLRB’s proposed rule changes are in excess of the board’s rulemaking authority, are substantively unnecessary, and are contrary to the [National Labor Relations Act]. Moreover, the proposed rules evidence poor public policy and are likely to exacerbate, rather than alleviate, labor tension between employers and employees.”
Steven Browne is executive director of human resources for LaRosa’s, a family-owned pizzeria with restaurants located throughout southwest Ohio and Indiana. Mr. Browne stated the NLRB’s proposed rule “will fundamentally and needlessly alter the delicate balance that exists in current law that provides for the opportunity for an employee to make an educated and informed decision to form, join or refrain from joining a labor organization.”
“If adopted,” Mr. Browne explained, “the proposed regulation would severely hamper an employer’s right to exercise free speech during union organizing campaigns and cripple the ability of employees to learn the employer’s perspective on the impact of collective bargaining on the workplace. Finally and equally troubling is that the NLRB is proposing this regulation absent any evidence that it is needed.”
“Next week, Representative Roe and I will have an opportunity to meet with [NLRB] Chairman Pearce to discuss our concerns with his ambush election rule,” concluded Chairman Kline. “If there are opportunities to work together to streamline the election process, like filing documents electronically, we are more than eager to help achieve a reasonable goal. However, if he is determined to ram through the regulatory process a rule that will harm protections enjoyed by workers, employers, and unions, then this committee will do what’s necessary and stand by those we are elected to serve.”
To learn more about today’s hearing, or to watch an archived webcast, visit www.republicans-edlabor.house.gov/hearings.
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