GOP goes after NLRB yet again

WASHINGTON (PAI) – In yet another right-wing attack on the National Labor Relations Board, the top Republicans on congressional labor committees unveiled legislation to lengthen union recognition election campaigns.

The measure, sponsored by House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline, R-Minn., Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., and Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the Senate Labor Committee’s top Republican, would give companies at least 35 days to campaign against union organizing drives.

In practice, since their bill is silent on the point, firms use the time to harass, intimidate, spy on and fire pro-union workers, threaten to close plants and otherwise break labor law.

The measure has little to no chance this year: Alexander does not run the Senate panel and measures Kline jams through on party-line votes in the House panel then die.  But it provides more red meat for the Radical Right and the GOP’s business backers.

The lawmakers claimed their bill would halt what they characterize as the NLRB’s “ambush election” rule.  That proposal consolidates hearings on disputed issues and holds them – if necessary – after union recognition votes occur.  It also would streamline election procedures.

Besides setting a minimum time for election campaigns, the GOP gives firms at least two weeks to prepare cases before facing an NLRB hearing officer and orders the agency to hold hearings on disputed issues – such as who is in a bargaining unit – before the vote.  Employers use such procedural moves to delay or deny elections.

The board “ought to be an umpire,” Alexander said in a statement.  “But under this administration, it has lunged so far to the side of union advocacy that they’re willing to sacrifice every worker’s right to privacy and every employer’s right to free speech. Congress must act, first to stop this rule, second to reform this board.”

“The Obama NLRB is on a mission to rush union elections that will stifle employers’ free speech and cripple workers’ free choice,” Kline alleged.  “At a recent meeting with board Chairman Mark Pearce, we laid out our concerns with the proposal and its consequences for workers and job creators.  It’s exceedingly obvious the board is determined to advance this radical scheme no matter the damage inflicted on our nation’s workplaces.  Congress cannot just stand by and do nothing.”

Union leaders had no immediate comment on the legislation.  The NLRB itself does not traditionally take stands on legislation.

Photo: Mark Pearce, chairman of the NLRB.


Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.