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Walberg Statement: Hearing on “Legislative Reforms to the National Labor Relations Act: H.R. 2776, Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act; H.R. 2775, Employee Privacy Protection Act; and, H.R. 2723, Employee Rights Act”


Our first subcommittee hearing of the 115th Congress was focused on the need to restore balance and fairness to federal labor policies. This has long been a priority for House Republicans, and today, we are taking the next step in our efforts.
 
The National Labor Relations Act was signed into law more than 80 years ago to protect the rights of workers in union elections. Congress understood workers deserve the opportunity to make fully informed decisions on union-related matters, and that employers deserve a level playing field with labor leaders.
 
The NLRA established important protections. It also created a neutral arbiter — the National Labor Relations Board — to serve as a fair and objective referee over labor disputes.
 
But that’s certainly not the NLRB we’ve come to know in recent years. Instead, over the last eight years, the board launched an activist agenda aimed at tilting the balance of power toward powerful special interests.
 
Unfortunately, it came at the expense of the hardworking men and women who keep our economy moving. Decision after decision by the NLRB restricted the rights of workers and employers.
 
Make no mistake; both Republicans and Democrats respect the right of workers to join a union. But workers also deserve the right to make a free and informed decision in the matter.
 
That means workers should have the chance to hear from both sides of the debate. And I hope we can all agree workers deserve to make a decision in an environment free of threats, coercion, or intimidation.
 
However, the NLRB’s actions over the years sent a different message. For example, in 2015, the board implemented a rule designed to rush employees into union elections.

The board dictated that workers should only be afforded as few as 11 days to   make a decision on whether or not to join a union. That’s roughly a week and a half to consider all the facts and consequences before casting a vote on a personal issue that directly impacts an employee’s job and paycheck.

Meanwhile, employers were given just seven days to find legal counsel and prepare their entire case before an NLRB hearing officer. That’s nearly impossible for most employers, let alone a small business owner.

With such a short time frame, employers hardly have a chance to communicate with their employees. But limiting debate and stifling employer free speech for the sake of speeding up union elections was precisely what the board had in mind. It’s no surprise that union elections have been organized 38 percent faster since this new rule took effect.

To make matters worse, the rule jeopardized the privacy of workers and their families. The NLRB forced employers to hand over the private information of their employees to union organizers, including home addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, work locations, and work schedules.

At the same time, workers and employers have been hit with a micro-union scheme that empowered union leaders to gerrymander the workplace. This new standard has created division in workplaces across the country, buried small businesses in red tape, and undermined job creation.

It’s long past time to put an end to these misguided policies. That’s why I was proud to introduce the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act to restore the rights of workers and employers in union elections.

My colleague Representative Joe Wilson has also introduced the Employee Privacy Protection Act. This important legislation will safeguard the privacy of America’s workers and give them greater control over their personal information.

In addition, Dr. Phil Roe introduced the Employee Rights Act to ensure workers aren’t stuck in unions they no longer support. The bill would modernize the union election process, require periodic union-recertification elections, and give workers more control over how their union dues are spent.
 
These are all commonsense proposals that will protect the rights of workers and restore balance and fairness to the rules governing union elections.

 

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