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Committee Advances Legislation to Ensure Workforce Democracy, Protect Employee Privacy

The House Education and the Workforce Committee, chaired by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), today approved two pieces of legislation to roll back an attempt by the National Labor Relations Board to weaken workforce democracy and employee privacy. The Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act (H.R. 4320) and the Employee Privacy Protection Act (H.R. 4321) will ensure access to a fair union election process and empower workers to safeguard their personal privacy.

“I am pleased the committee has advanced legislation to defend the rights workers and employers have enjoyed for decades,” said Chairman Kline. “The Obama board is determined to advance a radical rule that will stifle employer free speech, cripple employee free choice, and jeopardize the privacy of workers and their families. It’s unconscionable for Congress to sit on the sidelines and do nothing. The steps we’ve taken will ensure a fair union election process, one that allows employers to speak with employees, protects a worker’s right to make an informed decision, and safeguards the privacy of working families.”

“Today the committee acted not only to push back broadly against the NLRB’s ambush election rule,” said Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), chairman of the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, “but also to protect the privacy of American workers. Employees have the right to form a union, but the unionization process must be open, transparent, and fair. Every worker deserves to make his or her own decision about whether to join a union, free from intimidation or coercion—by the union or the employer.”

During the markup, Democrats offered several non-germane amendments in an attempt to distract from the NLRB’s ambush election proposal and the president’s failed policies. “Working families are hurting in the Obama economy,” said Chairman Kline. “Rather than work with us to change direction, Democrats are trying frantically to change the subject. Today’s antics are further proof that Democrats have different priorities than working families. More rules, mandates, and regulations will not provide the jobs and opportunity struggling families desperately need.”

BACKGROUND: In February the NLRB proposed sweeping changes to long-standing labor policies in an attempt to speed up union elections. Under the board’s proposal, union elections could occur in as few as 10 days, providing employers no time to communicate with their employees and undermining the ability of workers to make an informed decision, and worker privacy will be compromised. The legislation approved by the committee will:

•  Guarantee workers have time to gather all the facts to make a fully-informed decision in a union election. No union election will be held in less than 35 days.

•  Ensure employers are able to participate in a fair union election process. The bill provides employers at least 14 days to prepare their case to present before a NLRB election officer.

•  Reassert the board’s responsibility to address critical issues before a union is allowed to represent workers, such as questions concerning voter eligibility or allegations of misconduct during the election.

•  Empower workers to control the disclosure of their personal information. Employers would have seven days to provide a list of employee names and one additional piece of contact information chosen by each individual employee.

•  Rein in union red tape and protect employee freedom in the workplace. Offered by Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) as a response to the board’s Specialty Healthcare decision, an amendment to H.R. 4320 was passed that would restore the traditional standard for determining the unit of workers to be included in the union.

To learn more about the Workforce Democracy Fairness Act, click here. To learn more about the Employee Privacy Protection Act, click here. To access markup materials or view an archived webcast, click here.

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