CQ Roll Call: Republicans Prepare to Go After Union-Friendly NLRB Rule

Posted on June 15, 2017

Republicans in the House and Senate are hoping to reverse a National Labor Relations Board regulation that they say helps unions form quickly at the expense of both employers and employees.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., introduced legislation (S 1350) on Wednesday to rescind regulations opponents have nicknamed the “ambush rule.” In the House, three bills with similar provisions (HR 2776HR 2723HR 2775) were discussed earlier in the day at an Education and the Workforce subcommittee hearing. 

The 2014 NLRB regulations at issue allow workers to file a petition to form a union and hold an election 11 days later.  Employers are also required to provide personal email addresses and phone numbers of workers to union organizers.

Both the House and Senate bills would expand the minimum number of days to 35 for a union election to occur.

Employees would also have the power to choose which piece of personal contact information an employer can share with a union organizer, a provision included in one of the House bills.

Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Mich., the chairman of the Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions subcommittee, said ending the rule would ensure that workers have adequate time to hear an employer’s argument for not forming a union.

“Decision after decision by the NLRB restricted the rights of workers and employers,” said Walberg. “But workers also deserve the right to make a free and informed decision in that matter. That means workers should have the chance to hear from both sides of the debate.”

Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., a co-sponsor of the Senate bill, said the NLRB “ran amok” in favor of unions under the Obama administration.

“I have fought this rule from the beginning, and I’m reintroducing this legislation in hopes that under our Republican Congress, which has worked so hard to restore our economy and unleash the opportunity for growth, we will make greater progress in undoing this harmful rule and help restore a traditional level playing field,” he said in a statement Wednesday.

In March 2015, both chambers passed resolutions to eliminate the rule through the Congressional Review Act but the measure was vetoed by President Barack Obama.

During the previous two sessions of Congress, similar bills also have been introduced in the House and the Senate but have not received floor votes. Several courts have upheld the NLRB’s rules in cases brought against the board by business groups.

During Wednesday's subcommittee hearing, House Democrats raised concerns that some provisions contained in the three House bills would make it not only difficult for unions to form, but nearly impossible for them to exist.

“One of these bills imposes an unachievable burden for workers to successfully vote for a union, by requiring a majority vote of all eligible voters instead of a majority of those actually voting,” said Rep. Robert C. Scott, D-Va., the full committee’s ranking member. “None of the sponsors of the bill would have been elected if they were required to achieve that level of support.”