WASHINGTON | January 5, 2018
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is an independent federal agency intended to protect the rights of workers, but over the course of the Obama administration, the NLRB handed down many extreme and partisan rulings that harmed American workers and small businesses. Unions were emboldened, while job creation was stifled by the radical policies created by the activist Board. To provide job creators and their employees the regulatory relief they need in the new year, the new Republican majority on the NLRB reversed some of the worst of the Obama-era rulings. Here are the key actions the NLRB took to start 2018 off on the right foot:
A Joint Employer Standard That Makes Sense – For decades, the definition of what it took to constitute a joint employer was straightforward. Two or more employers were required to have “actual, direct, and immediate” control over employees to be considered joint employers. But in 2015, the Obama-era NLRB radically expanded the standard to encompass tenuously tied contractors, small businesses and franchises, undermining their independence and putting local jobs at risk.
Subcommittee Chairman Bradley Byrne (R-AL) introduced H.R. 3441, the bipartisan Save Local Business Act to roll back the new extreme joint employer definition and restore the traditional joint employer test. In October 2017, the committee marked up the bill, and on November 7, the House of Representatives passed the legislation by a bipartisan vote of 242 to 181.
On December 14, the Trump NLRB voted to overturn the unworkable 2015 decision in order to bring much-needed regulatory relief and clarity to small businesses and franchises across the country.
Taking a Closer Look at the Ambush Election Rule – In another hyper-partisan action by the Obama-era Board, in 2014, the NLRB finalized a rule that drastically changed union election policies. It empowered unions at the expense of employers and employees, shrank the union election period time frame from at least 25 days to as few as 11 days, required employers to provide private employee information to union leaders, and generally stripped workers of their rights to make informed decisions about whether or not to join a union.
Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) and Subcommittee Chairman Tim Walberg (R-MI) introduced two pieces of legislation, H.R. 2775, the Employee Privacy Protection Act and H.R. 2776, the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act respectively, in response to the NLRB’s ruling to protect the privacy of employees’ personal information, and restore an appropriate amount of time to the union election process.
On December 14, 2017, the NLRB published a Request for Information (RFI), soliciting comments regarding the ambush election rule, taking the first step toward making rule changes within the NLRB’s authority. The Committee will be submitting all public comments for the record and monitoring the Board’s developments as they weigh changing or rescinding the rule.
Limiting the Rise of Job-Crushing Micro-Unions – In 2011, the NLRB’s decision in Specialty Healthcare completely altered the workplace landscape by giving rise to micro-unions, or smaller and unrelated labor unions within a business. The scheme gave union leaders the power to cherry pick employee units, and play them against each other to engage employers in constant labor negotiations.
Chairman Walberg introduced the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act (H.R. 2776) to address this alarming ruling by rolling back the micro-union scheme, and extending the union election timeframe to give workers enough time to make an informed decision before casting a ballot. On December 15, 2017, the NLRB reversed its 2011 Specialty Healthcare micro-union decision and returned to a standard that permits the Board to evaluate the interest of all employees instead of by individual micro-union units.
Establishing and maintaining balanced and practical policies to protect the nation’s workers and job creators is essential to building a strong workforce, and recent actions by the Trump NLRB indicate that the Board is willing to listen to the intent of Congress, and the needs of American employees and employers. There is still a long road ahead to repair the damage caused by the NLRB’s many misguided Obama-era decisions, and Republicans have not lost sight of the American workforce’s need for regulatory relief. The Committee on Education and the Workforce will continue its work to deliver solutions that strengthen Main Street businesses, boost job creation, and put the hardworking men and women of the workforce first.