GOP Counters Union Election Proposals

Thursday, 27 Mar 2014 07:36 PM

By Jason Devaney

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Republicans in Congress are taking on unions with several pieces of legislation that would limit the National Labor Relations Board's (NLRB) power when it comes to union elections.

Responding to a proposal put forth by the NLRB in February that would shrink the number of days to 10 when an employee files a petition to when he or she is allowed to vote on forming a union, Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., and Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., offered a bill that would increase the time limit to 35 days.

Kline said in The Hill that a 10-day wait would "rush" the election process. Other Republicans have said it would lead to "ambush" elections.

The lawmakers' proposal would also provide employers 14 days to prepare a case before appearing in front of an NLRB election official; the NLRB wants that number to be seven days.

In another bill, Kline and Alexander propose that workers should decide if they want to provide unions with their personal and contact information.

"Employees provide personal information to employers expecting this sensitive information will be protected," the bill reads. "Most employees would be shocked to learn the federal government was forcing employers to hand over their personal information to union bosses. The privacy of working families should be strengthened by policymakers, not weakened by an unelected labor board."

Democrats and union officials have different opinions than Republicans on the matter of labor relations. When the NLRB unveiled its new election proposal in February, chairman Mark Gaston Pearce argued for it.

"These proposals are intended to improve the process for all parties, in all cases, whether non-union employees are seeking a union to represent them or unionized employees are seeking to decertify a union," said Pearce, according to The Hill.

Alexander said the Obama administration is partly to blame for the rising power of unions.

"The National Labor Relations Board ought to be an umpire," Alexander told The Hill.

"But under this administration [the NLRB] 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."

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