DOL TO EMPLOYERS: SHOW US YOUR BOOKS

From the desk of Steve Cabot: With his Congressional rubber stamp privileges revoked by the decisive loss of the House of Representatives last November, President Obama continues to use the rule-making and regulatory powers of the Executive Branch to work his will on employers.  He seems emboldened by the push-back from the American people, and is doubling down on his efforts to “transform” the country in his remaining time in office.

Previously, we described how the Democrat-dominated NLRB recently proposed rules which would significantly impact management’s ability to makes its case leading up to a union ratification election. Now it’s the Department of Labor which has stepped in to influence and intimidate employers who seek advice from outside attorneys and consultants (officially known as “persuaders”) as they prepare for these elections.

Specifically, the DOL has proposed a rule related to the reporting requirements under Section 203 of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, which would broaden “advice” to mean any “oral or written recommendation regarding a decision or course of conduct.” The rule stipulates that both the company and its consultants must open their books to report any of the newly-covered activities – and, even more intrusively, the details of any compensation involved.

As usual, the devil is in the details, as found in the language of the rule:

“For example, persuader activities may additionally include: Training or directing supervisors and other management representatives to engage in persuader activity; establishing anti-union committees composed of employees; planning employee meetings; deciding which employees to target for persuader activity or discipline; creating employer policies and practices designed to prevent organizing; and determining the timing and sequencing of persuader tactics and strategies.”

The rule goes on to state that even “union avoidance” seminars and conferences offered by lawyers or labor consultants to employers will constitute “reportable persuader activity.”  The proposed rule was  published on June 21, 2011, in the Federal Register. Public comments can submitted until August 22, 2011.

expert labor relations advice