GOP seeks to head off NLRB rules

Would speed up organizing process, allow multiple unions

House Republicans are waging a pre-emptive strike against the National Labor Relations Board on Wednesday to keep the group from speeding up the process for organizing unions and to prevent multiple unions at a single company.

The NLRB wants to quicken the pace to make it easier for employees and to prevent employers from discouraging them. The NLRB also supports allowing multiple unions, known as “micro-unions,” that represent different divisions within each company.

The Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act, introduced in October by Committee on Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline, Minnesota Republican, will receive a floor vote Wednesday afternoon that could repeal the NLRB’s new rules before they even get approved.

The NLRB also is voting Wednesday to decide whether to proceed to draft a final rule and vote at a later date.

Prospects for the House bill’s passage are good, but could end up being benched by the Senate.

“It’s very clear to me that we’re seeing the rights of employers and employees under attack,” said Mr. Kline, adding, “I expect overwhelming support from my side of the aisle.”

NLRB Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce released the final details of his proposal on Tuesday.

“The vast majority of NLRB-supervised elections, about 90 percent, are held by agreement of the parties — employees, union and employer — in an average of 38 days from the filing of a petition,” he said. “The amendments I propose would not affect those agreed-to elections.

“Rather, the amendments would apply to the minority of elections which are held up by needless litigation and disputes which need not be resolved prior to an election,” he continued. “In these contested elections, employees have to wait an average of 101 days to cast a ballot. And as several employees testified at our hearing in July, that period can be disruptive and painful for all involved.”

In June, the NLRB proposed allowing pre-election hearings in as little as seven days after the petition to organize is filed, and a vote to be taken in as little as 10 days.

Mr. Kline’s bill addresses this sharp cut in the days leading up to unionization. He would require at least 14 days before a pre-election hearing is held, giving employers more time to find a legal team and build their case. He would also require a minimum of 35 days — about the current average — before a vote can be taken.

The NLRB has been in the cross hairs of House Republicans for most of the year for what Mr. Kline calls a “blizzard of regulations.” It started with the agency’s attack on Boeing Co., the world’s largest aerospace manufacturer.

But labor groups and its allies are pushing back. Before the votes on Wednesday, labor leaders from the AFL-CIO and congressional Democrats will hold a special forum to address House Republicans’ “assault on the NLRB and workers’ rights.”

House Democrats also have protested heavily as these anti-NLRB bills have made their way through the chamber.

“I don’t think it sounds like fairness to anyone out there in the workplace,” said Rep. George Miller, California Democrat and ranking member of the Education and Workforce Committee, during last month’s hearing on the bill.

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