House GOP chairman targets NLRB rules

Republicans are moving forward with legislation to roll back regulations coming from the National Labor Relations Board.

Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), the chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, introduced a measure Wednesday intended to bolster employer cases before the NLRB, which has become a top GOP target ever since it filed a complaint against aerospace giant Boeing.

Kline’s bill would give employers at least 14 days to prepare their case for a NLRB election officer. It would also change the law so that no union election could be held until at least 35 days after a petition is filed. The provisions are in response to a rule intended to speed up elections

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The measure also would void a recent NLRB decision that allowed smaller bargaining units to demand union elections. Kline’s bill would go back to the earlier standard.

“We have been very concerned about the impact of what I have been calling the blizzard of regulations that’s been coming out of the administration on the economy, making it harder for the economy to grow and get Americans back to work. Some of that, of course, has been coming out of the National Labor Relations Board,” Kline said.

The committee chairman said the NLRB seems to be operating on an agenda to grow unions’ membership.

“It seems to me that there is an agenda at work here to increase that number, that percentage,” Kline said.

Kline has already scheduled a hearing for the bill next Wednesday and expects his panel will move the legislation soon.

The chairman said the NLRB is being unfair to employers because its proposed rules would greatly speed up union elections.

Kline said this isn’t fair to small businesses that would have trouble affording the legal help to deal with a union election.

Unions have supported the proposed union election rule, along with several Democratic lawmakers, who were quick to pounce on Kline’s bill.

“The Republican solution to the jobs crisis is to either ignore it or make it worse. Undermining the rights of American workers and giving big corporations new rights to outsource work overseas seem to be the start and finish of their workforce agenda,” said Aaron Albright, a spokesman for the Democrats on the House Education and the Workforce Committee.

Business groups have lobbied heavily against the NLRB’s rulings and regulations this year. Kline said he has heard from big retailers like Home Depot and Target about the NLRB.

The NLRB has attracted increased GOP scrutiny since it issued a complain against Boeing for allegedly shifting employment to South Carolina, a right-to-work state, in retaliation against striking union workers in Washington state. The House passed legislation this year to ban the labor board from ordering a company to relocate its employment.

Kline said he couldn’t guarantee a floor vote on his bill but did say he felt it could happen this upcoming winter. The Minnesota Republican noted that an August memo from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) listed the NLRB’s proposed union election rule as one of the 10 most harmful regulations proposed by the Obama administration.

“The leader himself has put this on his list of bills that he wants to see done this winter,” Kline said. “The leader wants it. I want it.”

With Wilma Liebman departing the labor board in August, the five-member NLRB is now down to three members. NLRB member Craig Becker will leave at the end of this congressional session, likely in December, because he was recess-appointed.

That would leave the NLRB with just two members, short of a quorum needed to issue rulings or propose regulations, including the proposed union election rule.

Kline said he expects the labor board is working hard to finish the rule before Becker’s departure.

“My expectation is that with the anticipated departure of Craig Becker that they will push hard. We are also pushing hard. I would like to get this fixed in statute,” Kline said.