Coalition for Democratic Workplace Statement on Persuader Rule
Group disappointed Labor Department Ignored Their Concerns
Washington, D.C. –The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW) released the following statement from CDW Chair Kristen Swearingen in response to the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) expected rule changing to the reporting requirement for persuader agreements:
“CDW is disappointed DOL’s final rule ignores the thousands of comments submitted by small business and other stakeholders. This rule is unfair to employers and employees. It particularly targets America’s small business owners – interfering with their right to confidential legal advice and other counsel. It will also make it harder for them to lawfully communicate with employees about unions and other workforce issues. At the same time, the rule effectively limits the information employees receive on important workplace issues, including whether or not to join a union.”
“DOL’s move circumvents the legislative process by making changes to the persuader rule that are so expansive employers will have trouble accessing routine legal counsel or expert advice on employee relations, human resources or employee benefits. The rule goes way beyond the original intent of the law, and not only will unfairly target American companies, but also it will diminish protections for their employees.
“The CDW is especially aware that this rule unfairly places a burden on the side of management, while not placing the same requirements on the labor unions. So while the employers will be have their requirements unfairly increased, the labor unions will continue to be able to operate without any transparency at all.”
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The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace is composed of over 600 organizations representing millions of businesses that employ tens of millions of workers nationwide in nearly every industry. CDW members are joined by the mutual concern over actions by the National Labor Relations Board, which threaten entrepreneurs, other employers, employees and economic growth. For more on CDW, go to www.myprivateballot.com.
BACKGROUND ON PERSUADER
The “persuader” rule is one of several disclosure requirements imposed by Congress in 1959 as part of the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act. It was designed to require employers to disclose their hiring of “middlemen” to speak with employees and influence their opinions about unions. Often, these middlemen – persuaders — would pose as workers so that the employees would not know that their employer was the source of these communications.
For more than 50 years, the persuader rule has required employers and those they hire to speak directly to employees to file reports to increase transparency on this type of activity.
On the other hand, the retention of outside legal and labor relations experts who advise employers on how to lawfully communicate with employees — but do not actually speak directly with employees — has been exempt from these reporting requirements as “advice.” Since it is clear in these instances the employer is the one trying to persuade the employees, no reporting was necessary.
Now, the Department of Labor — without any involvement from Congress – is attempting to rewrite the law. The Department’s revised persuader rule is so expansive it will likely make it difficult for employers to access routine legal counsel or expert advice on employee relations, human resources or employee benefits.
The rule will require new, complex and unprecedented levels of disclosure for attorneys, consultants, associations and other professionals who provide advice to employers about how to legally communicate with their employees. Additionally, these professionals will need to disclose to the federal government their client lists and other confidential information not related to the transaction in question. According to the American Bar Association, the persuader rule will likely discourage many attorneys from handling labor issues, leaving tens of thousands of small businesses without access to important advice on how to comply with the law.
The one-sided nature of this rule demonstrates that it’s not about greater transparency for workers. There currently is no disclosure or reporting requirements for unions who “salt” the workplace with union “persuaders” posing as employees for the purpose of encouraging unionization.
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