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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A NEW THREAT TO CORPORATE AMERICA

From the Desk of Steve Cabot: Having failed to get congress to pass the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), organized labor is now benefitting from proposed new rules issued by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The new rules will ease the way for organized labor to win union elections by dramatically truncating the period of time from petition to election. It currently takes an average of 57 days from petition to election; under the new rules that period would be reduced to from 10 to 21 days. Of course, union organizers often spend months convincing employees to vote for unionization, prior to the filing of a petition. Now, the newly imposed brief interregnum will significantly curtail a company’s ability to educate employees about the disadvantages of unionization.

As if that were not sufficiently injurious to Corporate America, the NLRB rules would also permit the electronic filing of election petitions, defer litigation about voter eligibility until after an election, require employers to provide a union with the phone numbers and e-mail addresses of all employees prior to an election, consolidate all litigious matters into a single post-election appeals action in order to eliminate individual actions that could delay an election.

One can only speculate what additional pro-union rules and regulations the NLRB may issue in the coming months. Certainly issues of wages and benefits will be an enticing subject for the NLRB ideologues to consider.

Corporate America has, thus far, been too complacent, believing that because the number of union members has decreased over the years that unions have been rendered ineffectual. In fact, unions are vigorously preparing for an aggressive assault on Corporate America, and its chief advocate and front-line ally is the NLRB, which is proposing a number of radical threats to Corporate America that should not be ignored.

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NLRB ATTACKS RIGHT-TO-WORK STATES

From the desk of Stephen Cabot: The National Labor Relations Board has further evidenced its pro-union advocacy by attempting to prevent Boeing from opening a manufacturing facility in South Carolina, a right-to-work state. Having endured numerous strikes against its manufacturing facility in Washington, including a 58 day strike in 2008 that cost the company $1.8 billion, Boeing management decided to build its new 787 Dreamliner in South Carolina. The proposed new facility would generate 1,000 new jobs and bring a $2 billion investment to the state.. The NLRB, however, filed a complaint against Boeing, alleging that Boeing is attempting to violate labor law in retaliation for past strikes against the company. The Board wants Boeing to stay in Washington. It’s no surprise that the International Association of Machinists District 571, which represents Boeing workers, declared the ruling “a victory for all American workers.” Yet, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham called it "one of the worst cases of unelected bureaucrats doing the bidding of special interest groups that I've ever seen." The NLRB is effectively attempting to abrogate the rights of Corporate America by eliminating its ability to decide where it wants to do business. It is also sabotaging the economic viability of twenty-two right-to-work states, which have been providing more new jobs than states which cater to unions and their often extortionate demands.

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