GOP lawmakers: Labor should withdraw consultant reporting rule

In June 2011, the Labor Department proposed to narrow that exemption for providing advice, so that only "an oral or written recommendation regarding a decision or a course of conduct" could go un-reported. Under the new proposal, any consultant's action that could "directly or indirectly" persuade workers, regardless of whether or not they came into direct contact with them, would require a notice to the department.

For example, if an attorney prepared letters or a video for an employer to use to speak with their employees, or if the consultant coordinated a campaign to counter union organizing, they would have to file a report with the Labor Department.

"Better disclosure is critical to helping workers make informed decisions about their right to organize and bargain collectively," the Labor Department said at the time.

In their letter, the legislators worry about the "regulatory burdens and negative effects on the confidential attorney-client relationship" of the new rule.

Kline and Roe are the chairmen of the House Education and the Workforce Committee and its health, employment, labor and pensions subcommittee, respectively.

The legislators echo the American Bar Association, which in 2011 warned the proposal "could seriously undermine both the confidential client-lawyer relationship and the employers’ fundamental right to counsel."

The department estimated its proposal would cost about $826,000 per year. In a recent report, however, the right-leaning Manhattan Institute predicted an economic price tag of up to $60 billion over 10 years.

In their letter, the lawmakers ask for documents about the way the department calculated the rule's cost and seek to speak with staff members about the rulemaking process.

The Labor Department had previously indicated that the final rule would be issued in April, but it has yet to be sent to the White House for final review.