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Committee Statements

Roe Statement: Hearing on H.R. 3459, "Protecting Local Business Opportunity Act"

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 29, 2015
I’m disappointed yet another misguided move by the partisan National Labor Relations Board has brought us here, but I’m not surprised. As chairman of this subcommittee, I have presided over numerous hearings focused on the NLRB’s threats to American workers and job creators. From ambush elections and micro-unions to restricting access to secret ballots and intruding on tribal sovereignty, the unelected bureaucrats at the NLRB have persistently pushed an activist agenda that benefits union bosses at the expense of hardworking men and women. And they’re doing it again.

Last month, I traveled to communities in Alabama and Georgia to hear more about the NLRB’s latest Big Labor scheme, an effort to change what it means to be an employer by expanding the joint employer standard. For more than 30 years, two or more businesses were considered “joint employers” – or equally responsible for decisions affecting employees and the daily operations of a business – if they shared “actual,” “direct,” and “immediate” control over those decisions. That standard had been in place for decades, and it had worked well for consumers, workers, and employers. However, it became apparent that an effort was underway at the NLRB to change the joint employer standard and upend countless small businesses in the process.

So we got out of Washington to get a better idea of what would happen if the board did what many people feared they might do. At two separate field hearings, we heard serious concerns that expanding the joint employer standard would have far-reaching consequences. We heard words like “disruptive,” “devastating,” and “detrimental.” We heard fears that the board would make a decision that would lead to higher costs, fewer jobs, and less opportunity for individuals – including veterans, women, and first generation Americans – to pursue the American Dream. And then, the board did exactly that.

Before we even returned to Washington, the NLRB issued a ruling in a case known as Browning-Ferris Industries that significantly expanded the joint employer standard. The decision discarded years of established labor policy to include employers who have “indirect” or even “potential” control over virtually any employment decision. To put it plainly, the board blurred the lines of responsibility for decisions affecting the daily operations of countless small businesses, including the nation’s 780,000 franchise businesses and countless contractors, subcontractors, independent subsidiaries, and more.

Having heard the stories of so many small business owners across the country and understanding the impact of this decision on countless lives and industries, Chairman Kline and Senator Lamar Alexander introduced the Protecting Local Business Opportunity Act. This commonsense legislation would roll back the NLRB’s harmful decision by reaffirming that two or more employers must have “actual, direct, and immediate” control over employees to be considered joint employers. It would prevent the disruption of countless small businesses; it would ensure future entrepreneurs have the opportunity to pursue the American Dream; and it is the reason that we’re here today.

We’ve spoken many times and heard many stories about the problems related to board’s radical rewrite of the joint employer standard. Now it’s time to talk about the solution. I’m eager to hear from our witnesses – not only about how the board’s decision will affect them, their businesses, and their families, but how this legislation can help protect those things that they’ve worked so hard for and those that they hold so dear.
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