Alexander: "Runaway Obama National Labor Relations Board" Threatens Employees As Well As Employers

Tells Johnson City Chamber he will introduce legislation to overturn NLRB decision that would eliminate the option of owning a franchise for hundreds of thousands of American small business owners

Posted on September 2, 2015

Johnson City, Tenn., September 2 – Senate labor committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today told the Johnson City Chamber of Commerce that he is working with Senate leadership to stop decisions by President Obama’s “runaway” National Labor Relations Board that threaten Tennessee employees as well as employers.

“Recent decisions by the National Labor Relations Board seem intended to destroy small business opportunities, cut workers’ hours, and reduce take home pay for hardworking Americans,” Alexander said. “I will introduce legislation to overturn the recent NLRB decision that would eliminate the option of owning a franchise for hundreds of thousands of American small business owners, and work with Senate leadership to restore balance to the board.”

On August 27, the National Labor Relations Board released its “joint employer” decision, which retroactively adopts a far broader definition of a joint employer and will cause many companies that use the franchise or contracting model to be responsible for the labor decisions of franchisees and subcontractors.

“This ruling seems intended to destroy a small business opportunity for more than 780,000 Americans in our country working 12 hours a day and facing the pressure of meeting payroll, paying taxes, and providing for their families – all as franchisees,” Alexander said today. “It will also harm the millions of small businesses that provide work as subcontractors – such as temporary staffing firms or auto parts suppliers. The board’s decision will greatly reduce any incentive for a corporation to sell franchises or parcel out business to subcontractors, suppliers or subsidiaries, and so may knock the ladder out from under millions of small business owners, some of whom have never been subject to NLRB jurisdiction before.

“I will be introducing a bill to invalidate this harmful ruling and restore an appropriate legal standard for determining who is a joint employer,” Alexander added.

Alexander discussed several rulings by the NLRB that threaten Tennessee employees and employers – such as its decision to allow within a single workplace an unlimited number of “micro-unions,” and the “ambush elections” rule, which would shorten the time between when pro-union organizers ask an employer for a secret ballot election and when that election takes place, potentially forcing a union election in as little as 11 days—before an employer and many employees even have a chance to figure out what is going on.

Alexander told the chamber that he has introduced, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and is working to pass, the NLRB Reform Act to restore balance to the National Labor Relations Board. He also introduced the Employee Rights Act in July with Senator Orrin Hatch to restore workers’ rights, by, among other things, ending harmful ambush elections. He led an effort in Congress this year to overturn the ambush elections rule, first by Congressional Review Act—which the president vetoed—and next through legislation.  He is an original cosponsor of Senator Isakson’s legislation to reverse the NLRB decision to allow micro-unions. 

Alexander also discussed several harmful policies by the Department of Labor – such as the “companionship” rule, which eliminates the overtime exemptions for home care aides, threatening in home care for 240,000 Tennesseans, and the “fiduciary” rule, which could restrict Tennesseans’ access to affordable retirement advice.

He said the department’s far-reaching overtime proposal, issued on June 30, to require employers to pay overtime to nearly all salaried workers making up to $50,400 a year would more than double the current salary threshold level for exemption from overtime requirements.

“Just imagine how discouraging this rule will be to the working mother who can no longer negotiate her schedule to, say, work from home when she needs to, or to the young restaurant assistant manager who loses his title and is returned to an hourly job with no more pay, or to the job seeker who discovers that the only available jobs are part-time,” Alexander said. “What Washington owes these workers are policies that create better opportunities, more flexibility and enable them to have more control over their work lives.”

At today’s event, Senator Alexander received the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Spirit of Enterprise Award, which recognizes members of Congress who consistently cast votes that help businesses create jobs. Alexander has received the award every year since he came to the U.S. Senate in 2003. The award honors members of Congress whose votes reflect the need to “enact policies that bolster our country's economy, create jobs and keep our nation's spirit of enterprise alive.”

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