GOP bill to roll back labor relations board rules advances in House

GOP bill to roll back labor relations board rules advances in House
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A Republican proposal to roll back the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) controversial so-called "ambush election" rule and scrap its 2011 ruling that allowed unions to organize employees in micro-unions advanced in the House on Thursday.

The House Education and the Workforce Committee passed the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act 22-16 along party lines.

The bill introduced by Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) prohibits a union election from being held less than 35 days after the petition for representation is filed and gives employers 14 days to object to its employees unionizing.

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Under the NLRB rule, which took effect in April 2015, employees are allowed to take a vote on union representation as soon as 11 days after a petition for representation is filed, with employers having seven days to bring objections to the NLRB.

“Eleven days isn’t enough time for workers to hear from both sides of the debate and make a personal decision that impacts their jobs, their paychecks and their future,” Walberg said during Thursday’s committee markup of his bill.

“Seven days certainly isn’t enough time for employers to respond and communicate with their employees. This is especially true for a small business owner, who lacks HR staff or in-house counsel."

Prior to the NLRB’s rule, the average election was held within 38 days.

“We need to get back to the way things were before the NLRB overstepped,” Walberg said.

The bill also rolls back the board’s 2011 ruling that allowed employees to form so-called "micro-unions." The NLRB said at the time that such unions were appropriate as long as they consisted of a clearly identifiable group of employees who shared a common interest.

Walberg called the board’s decision “perhaps one of the most reckless of the past 8 years.”

“It empowered union leaders to handpick individual employees and form micro-unions in an incremental step toward organizing an entire business,” he said.

“As a result employees face fragmented workplaces and employers are forced to confront union red tape that drives up the cost of doing business and hiring workers."

Democrats fought back against Walberg’s bill, saying it would cause unnecessary delays in union elections.

Rep. Frederica WilsonFrederica Patricia WilsonJuan Williams: Racial shifts spark fury in Trump and his base Dem behind impeachment push to boycott State of the Union Democrats seek to take on Trump at State of the Union MORE (D-Fla.) proposed an amendment, which ultimately failed, to eliminate the bill’s mandatory 35-day waiting period.

“Rights delayed are rights denied, and the underlying bill seeks to deny a worker’s right to organize and collectively bargain for better wages by delaying union elections,” she said.

Wilson wanted to know where the suggestion of a 35-day time period originated.

“By slowing down the time it takes for a union to hold an election, it will be much more difficult for any union to win an election or even form a union in the first place,” she said.

“However, this is precisely the intent of this legislation, which in reality is merely a ploy by employees in management and their union avoidance consultants to delay union elections and deter the formation of unions.”

The committee also passed the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act on Thursday to clarify that the bargaining rights provided under the National Labor Relations Act do not apply to employees of business owned and operated by an Indian tribe and located on tribal land. 

The Employee Privacy Protection Act also passed the committee along party lines. The bill eliminates a provision in the NLRB’s so-called "ambush election" rule that forces employers to disclose employees’ personal information to union organizers.