GROUNDHOG DAY: THE UNFUNNY VERSION

In the 1993 romantic comedy, “Groundhog Day,” weatherman Phil Connors, played by Bill Murray, was forced to live through the same dreadful 24 hours, again and again, where nothing changed – until he did. Central to the plot was that only he was aware of this repetitive phenomenon; everyone else was totally oblivious. It was an amusing film and did well at the box office. Unfortunately, employers – and the rest of America – are being forced to live through a darker, more sinister version of this movie, one in which the lead character continues to push his Big Labor “change” agenda without regard to constitutional restrictions or political precedent. Unlike the original, however, we are all very much aware of what’s going on – only nobody’s laughing, except union leaders and their allies.

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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.

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STEPHEN CABOT DECRIES OBAMA'S EXECUTIVE ORDER

From the desk of Stephen Cabot

The Executive Order for Project Labor Agreements, which had been issued by President Obama, has gone into effect this week. The rule encourages federal agencies to require that any company that performs a construction project for the government should have a unionized workforce, if the construction project costs more than $25-million.

Since only 15% of construction workers are unionized, 85% of construction workers will now be ineligible for government projects that cost more than $25-million. As a result, either workers will demand that they be represented by unions, which will drive up labor costs; or, more likely, non-union workers will not have an opportunity to work on government construction projects. This will prove highly injurious to companies and workers alike.

Since the construction industry currently has one of the nation’s highest unemployment rates, at 27%, President Obama’s Order will only serve to drive up that figure.

In addition, the use of unionized companies will significantly reduce competitive bidding for projects, which will result in increased costs. That burden will add to the deficit and become an additional responsibility of tax payers.

Numerous studies have demonstrated that project labor agreements increase costs by up to 20% and invite significant cost overruns, just look at Boston’s Big Dig.

Workers should have the freedom to choose whether or not to join a union. The government’s action limits that freedom, propelling workers into the avaricious arms of organized labor while worsening the American economy.

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