Revisited ‘persuader’, ‘ambush’ election rules could ease union organizing

Sources: Associated Builders & Contractors, Washington, D.C.; CP staff

In its regulatory outlook, ABC cites the Department of Labor’s March 2014 target for release of a final rule narrowing the scope of the advice exemption from Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act persuader activity reporting requirements.

If finalized next year, the rule as Labor officials proposed in 2011 would a) expand the circumstances in which third party advice—key to management educating employees about collective bargaining-needs to be reported by employers plus attorneys, association staff or other service providers; and, b) advance requirements for employer disclosure of compensation for labor relations advisory services.

ABC Government Affairs staff notes that the “persuader rule” is designed to work hand-in-glove with the National Labor Relations Board’s sole 2014 regulatory agenda item: a shortening of the amount of time between when a union files a representation petition and the election. When the NLRB issued the “ambush” election rule in late-2011, labor policy observers determined that the petition-to-election window would shrink from an average of 40 days to 17–20 days.

In conjunction with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the ABC-led Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW) challenged the proposed rule in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. A subsequent letter from CDW counsel to the Labor Department’s Office of Labor Management Standards called the proposed rule “anti-employer, especially anti-small business, and, perhaps most significantly, anti-employee. [It] amounts to a radical attempt by the Executive Branch to shift the balance of private sector labor relations, in defiance of the neutral policies established by Congress over many decades … The proposed rules will interfere impermissibly with the attorney-client relationship, the right of trade associations to communicate with their employer members, and the ability of employers to obtain much needed advice from their peers, lawyers and experienced labor relations consultants.”

The D.C. District Court overturned the ambush election rule in May 2012, determining that adoption occurred absent a required NLRB Member quorum. Now fully staffed with Senate-approved Members, the Board could move to narrow the union petition-to-election window.