Overnight Regulation: Groups vow to challenge union 'persuader' rule

Welcome to Overnight Regulation, a daily rundown of news from the federal agencies, Capitol Hill and beyond. It's Wednesday evening here in Washington and our thoughts are with Brussels. 

Here's the latest. 

 

THE BIG STORY 

Business groups and labor advocates are blasting a final rule from Department of Labor they say will have "chilling" effects on free speech and prevent employers from seeking legal counsel.

Under the so-called persuader rule the DOL finalized on Wednesday, employers will be required to report any actions, conduct or communications that are undertaken to -- explicitly or implicitly, directly or indirectly -- affect an employee's decisions regarding his or her representation or collective bargaining rights.

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"Workers should know who is behind an anti-union message. It's a matter of basic fairness," Secretary of Labor Thomas PerezThomas Edward PerezClinton’s top five vice presidential picks Government social programs: Triumph of hope over evidence Labor’s 'wasteful spending and mismanagement” at Workers’ Comp MORE said in a statement. 

"This new rule will allow workers to know whether the messages they're hearing are coming directly from their employer or from a paid, third-party consultant," he added. "Full disclosure of persuader agreements gives workers the information they need to make informed choices about how they pursue their rights to organize and bargain collectively. As in all elections, more information means better decisions."

Business groups however say the rule will deter employers from openly discussing the pros and cons of unionization with their employees.

"In narrowing this exemption, DOL is greatly limiting businesses' ability to obtain labor relations advice from attorneys, consultants and trade associations, including ABC, which will have a particularly onerous impact on any business without in-house counsel," said Associated Builders and Contractors Vice President of Legislative and Political Affairs Kristen Swearingen said in a statement.

"No employer should have to wade through the final rule's 446 pages to figure out whether they can safely get advice on what they can say to their employees."

ABC said it's committed to fighting the rule through every available avenue. 

Michael Lotito, who co-chairs the Workplace Policy Institute at law firm Littler Mendelson, also promised to fight the rule he referred to as an "unprecedented intrusion into the attorney client relationship."

"While technical in nature, the purpose will be to restrict the ability of employers, especially small employers, to obtain the kind of confidential information they need to respond to our ever changing labor laws," he said. "It will be challenged with great vigor." http://bit.ly/1MCZDBB

 

TOMORROW'S REGS TODAY

The Obama administration will publish 157 new regulations, proposed rules, notices and other administrative actions in Thursday's edition of the Federal Register.

--The Department of Education will propose new desegregation rules.

The new rules would affect the application process at equity assistance centers, which were formerly known as desegregation assistance centers. The changes would update the selection criteria for schools that may participate in the program.

The public has 30 days to comment. http://bit.ly/1MCNBYV

--The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will propose new rules for traders.

The new rules would affect automated quotations in the trading process.

The public has 21 days to comment. http://bit.ly/1RlJwKK

--The Department of Energy (DOE) will propose new efficiency rules for boilers.

The Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is proposing new energy conservation standards for commercial packaged boilers.

The efficiency rules could cost manufacturers more than $27 million in conversion costs, according to the agency.

The public has 60 days to comment. http://bit.ly/1PrWp3y

--The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will propose to strengthen the national emergency alert system.

The proposed changes seek to more effectively warn the public about emergency situations, the agency notes.

The public has 45 days to comment. http://bit.ly/1MCSv8l

 

NEWS RIGHT NOW

GOP targets veterans gun ban. http://bit.ly/1RlLZox

Tinder introduces 'Swipe the Vote.' http://bit.ly/1T6z2nb

Wall Street pushes back on financial trading tax. http://bit.ly/1UGqrbK

House Republicans ask IRS about tool to prevent improper tax-credit payments. http://bit.ly/1RzTtJW

Republican senator to meet with Obama SCOTUS nominee. http://bit.ly/1PrFMoX

Supreme Court appears split on ObamaCare contraceptive fight. http://bit.ly/22Gfjx9

 

BY THE NUMBERS

50: Limit in micrograms of silica per cubic meter of air workers can be exposed to under a new OSHA rule due soon.

Over 2,000: Comments OSHA received on the rule. 

 

TWEET OF THE DAY

"After 6 yrs of broken promises I'm joining millions of ppl to wish Obamacare an unhappy bday," Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMellman: Where are good faith and integrity? GOP senator says Republicans didn't control Senate when they held majority Pence met with silence after mentioning Trump in Munich speech MORE (R-Ariz.) tweeted with a picture of an unhappy looking bulldog adorned with a purple wig, party hat and blower. http://bit.ly/1Sibppv

 

We'll work to stay on top of these and other stories throughout the week, so check The Hill's Regulation page (http://thehill.com/regulation) early and often for the latest. And send any comments, complaints or regulatory news tips our way, tdevaney@thehill.com or lwheeler@thehill.com. And follow us at @timdevaney and @wheelerlydia.

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