- - Monday, April 23, 2012

In June 2011, the National Labor Relations Board (NRLB) proposed new regulations that would do grave harm to small business, while simultaneously empowering organized labor unions. The regulations introduced by the Obama administration’s NLRB would drastically shorten the union election process, encouraging one-sided campaigns. Under the current law, it takes roughly 38 days to hold a union representation election. Under this new regulation, however, employers could have as little at 10 to 14 days to communicate with their employees from the moment they learn a union is trying to organize their workforce election.

Among other things, these rushed election rules require employers to postpone legal challenges until after the workers vote. This quick process makes it more difficult for employers to effectively communicate with employees before the vote occurs. By drastically limiting the ability of employers to communicate with their employees regarding impending elections, these regulations effectively deny employees the opportunity to make informed decisions. Such regulations would place a large burden on employers - particularly small businesses that lack the legal expertise to navigate complex labor laws - and could result in numerous unintentional NLRB violations by unknowing employers.

The proposed election rules strip employers of their rights to litigate many issues in a hearing, limit parties’ appellate rights and have the potential to dramatically decrease the time between the filing of a union election petition and the actual election. All of these rules are scheduled to take effect on April 30.

If, in fact, these rules are put into effect, labor unions will feel encouraged to start organizing drives in previously union-free workplaces, such as Target and Wal-Mart. But this is not something we should encourage. In fact, it is something we should strongly oppose and advise against. By implementing these regulations, we are ignoring the advice of bipartisan leaders. Then-Sen. John F. Kennedy in 1959 spoke of the importance of a “safeguard against rushing employees into an election where they are unfamiliar with the issue.” And today, the American people agree.

The NRLB was inundated with more than 65,000 comments regarding these proposed regulations, and a majority of these comments were opposed to it. The people of America recognize that these regulations are anti-worker, anti-employer, anti-business and anti-jobs. The only ones who benefit are union organizers and their headlong quest for more money.

These rushed elections deny workers sufficient time to educate themselves about the effects of unionization and thus deny them the ability to make a fully informed decision. The new rules could subject hundreds of thousands of American workers to harassment and intimidation tactics administered by aggressive union organizers. These rules also give union organizers advantages and will allow them to target businesses they haven’t traditionally targeted, such as small businesses. These small-business owners will face additional costs and burdens. This is a lose-lose situation for American job creators and American jobs.

This new proposal not only hurts small-business growth, but it also strips employees of their right to privacy. Under these proposed regulations, employers would be required to hand over employee’s home addresses, phone numbers and email information to union organizers. Such requirements invade personal privacy and employers would be required to submit their employees’ information, even if the employee does not wish to have their information released.

These new regulations infringe upon the rights of both the employer and the employee. That is why I am pleased that my colleagues in the Senate are fighting back. I have co-sponsored a Congressional Review Act (CRA) introduced by Sen. Mike Enzi, Wyoming Republican, that would overturn this dangerous NLRB rule. I applaud Mr. Enzi’s efforts to challenge these new regulations and ambush-election rules. The CRA allows the Senate and House to introduce a joint resolution of disapproval. This disapproval is recognized by both chambers of Congress and thus carried forth with the full force of the law to stop a federal agency, such as the NLRB, from implementing unjust regulations and rules.

The American people and both chambers of Congress are up in arms over these new regulations. And if that is not enough, the Chamber of Commerce and the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace have filed suit against the NLRB, challenging these proposed regulations.

Anti-job, anti-business, anti-employer and anti-worker regulations are something all Americans should oppose. Thus, I will stand with my congressional colleagues and support the CRA to challenge and hopefully, prevent the implementation of these job-killing and small-business burdening regulations.

Sen. Rand Paul is a Kentucky Republican.