Manufacturers and businesses mount opposition to Labor Department “Persuader” rule

The New York Times  reports that on Wednesday, the Labor Department has released the final version of a rule to require employers to disclose relationships with consultants hired to “persuade workers not to form a union or support a union’s collective bargaining position.” According to the Department, the rule “is necessary because workers are frequently in the dark about who is trying to sway them when they exercise their labor rights.”

However, Reuters  reports NAM and other business groups have opposed the new rule, stating that it would harm employers’ free speech rights. Meanwhile, the American Bar Association (ABA) has stated the rule may interfere with attorney-client privilege.

IndustryWeek reports the new rule would require “employers to disclose when they hire or seek advice from consultants on fighting union organizing campaigns.” Specifically, it would require the reporting of “actions, conduct or communications that are undertaken with an object, explicitly or implicitly, directly or indirectly, to affect an employee’s decisions regarding his or her representation or collective bargaining rights.” According to the article, the “NAM called it the latest in a series of ‘drastic’ and ‘overreaching’ tweaks ‘that will fundamentally upend the manufacturing workplace.’”

Meanwhile, Philly (PA)  quotes NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons as saying, “This unwarranted action by the Department of Labor will further restrict employers’ ability to educate and inform employees on essential issues in the workplace.” Timmons added, “For small and medium-sized manufacturers especially, this ‘revision’ could silence employers for no good reason.” The article states the National Retail Federation (NRF) and ABA have both objected to the new rule, which requires companies to “list the consultant’s name and address and the amount paid, whether the consultant speaks to employees directly or advises and coaches supervisors and managers on what to say or helps design a website for employees.”

Politico Pro  reports the NAM released a statement that it will “aggressively pursue legislative and legal action” against the new persuader rule, calling it “the latest in a series of so-called ‘tweaks’ from the Department of Labor and the National Labor Relations Board which, in reality, are overreaching and drastic overhauls to long standing policy that will fundamentally upend the manufacturing workplace.” Similarly, “Several other business groups blasted the new rule,” with the Associated Builders and Contractors saying it is “committed to fighting this burdensome, costly and poorly crafted rule through every available avenue.” Should NAM members want to read the full article for free, they may contact National Association of Manufacturers Account Manager Molly Fluet at mfluet@politico.com.

According to the Charleston (SC) Post and Courier, US Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez commented on the rule’s requirements, saying that “Workers should know who is behind an anti-union message.” National trade groups, however, were quick to criticize the labor department’s actions. NRF vice president of government relations David French said the rule “will be a chilling effect on simple legal advice regarding employee or collective-bargaining issues. … Big Labor will profit from this muzzling of free speech.”