House panel approves bill to roll back union election rule

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“The legislation ensures that everyone can participate in a fair election process,” Kline said.

Democrats said the committee was not focused on creating jobs and is instead going after union rights.

“That’s why it’s so frustrating that this committee is continuing to focus on attacking workers’ rights, the fundamental rights they have at work, instead of on solving the jobs crisis,” said Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), the panel’s ranking member, who called the bill “the Election Prevention Act.”

Kline’s bill is in response to a rule proposed by the labor board in June to speed up union elections. That rule would allow elections to be held in as little as 10 days after a petition is filed, according to Kline’s estimate.

Kline’s bill will ensure that union elections will be held no earlier than 35 days after a petition is filed. It also reverses a ruling by the NLRB this August to allow smaller bargaining units to form unions.

Democrats offered several amendments to Kline’s bill to reverse many of its provisions, but they failed to move through the committee. 

Business groups have gotten behind the bill.

In a letter sent Wednesday to Kline and Miller, Bruce Josten, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s executive vice president of government affairs, said the labor board has brought about a “radical policy shift.” 

“Simply put, the modest changes that would be provided by [the bill] would restore the legal status quo that existed prior to the board’s radical policy shift,” Josten said in the letter.

Josten urged the committee to approve the legislation and have it considered on the House floor as soon as possible.

Labor has come out against the legislation.

In a letter Wednesday to House members, Bill Samuel, the AFL-CIO’s government affairs director, urged lawmakers to vote against the legislation.

The bill “has one goal: to empower employers who want to delay elections so they can mount one-sided, anti-union campaigns, both legal and illegal, to discourage workers from freely choosing whether or not to form a union,” Samuel said in the letter.

It’s likely the full House will consider the bill before the end of this year. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has identified the NLRB’s proposed union election rule as one of the Obama administration’s 10 most harmful regulations.

The legislation does not have much of a chance in the Democratic-controlled Senate though. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has not taken up another bill passed by House Republicans that target the labor board.