Chamber of Commerce revs up opposition to labor election rule

The nation’s largest business lobby is restarting a national campaign against a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rule intended to speed up union elections.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Workforce Freedom Initiative has revved up its “Do Not Disturb” effort, which the business group hopes will flood the labor board with public comments opposing the regulation. Visitors to the group’s website are asked to tell the NLRB that “you don’t want your personal email address and phone number given to union bosses.”

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Under the labor board’s proposal, employers and union organizers would have to be provided with workers’ email addresses and phone numbers during a union election drive. The proposed rule, announced last month, would also consolidate election appeals into a single post-election process and allow for union petitions to be filed electronically, among other changes.

Business groups and Republicans have condemned the proposal, saying it will trample on employer rights by giving them little time to talk to their employees before a union vote. They have labeled it the “ambush election” rule.

Unions have backed the measure, arguing that unnecessary delays in union elections have stopped workers from organizing.

The labor board first issued the rule in 2011, before it was overturned in the courts. The revived regulation has already attracted threats of more litigation.

“The board has proposed the same rule that they have proposed years ago. Just like then, this is a solution in search of a problem,” said Glenn Spencer, vice president at the Chamber initiative. “The intent is just let them know how people feel about this.”

The business lobby plans to build opposition to the rule through the public comment process.

It launched the campaign this past week, touting it on Facebook and Twitter. The Chamber directed activists to a website where they can send a virtual “Do Not Disturb” sign to the NLRB in opposition to the election rule. 

Spencer is also traveling the country, meeting with members of the U.S. Chamber and state and local business groups to talk about the rule.

Spencer estimated that the Chamber has already generated 10,000 responses to the labor board about the rule.

“This rule has gotten folks pretty riled up. We hope the board will take that into account when considering this rule,” Spencer said.

The Chamber mounted a similar effort against the original rule in 2012, asking people to send letters opposing the regulation to lawmakers.

GOP lawmakers are keeping a close eye on NLRB as well.

 

Last week, House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-Minn.), along with Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), met with NLRB Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce to discuss the rule. Kline asked Pearce to extend the comment period on the proposal.