Protecting the Right to Organize Act Threatens to Destroy American Businesses

Washington, D.C. – On May 8, the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions will hold a hearing on the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. In response to the introduction of the legislation, the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace released the following statement from Chair Kristen Swearingen:

“The PRO Act tramples on employee rights and ignores the consequences of dangerous policies on our economy. CDW urges Congress to emphatically and unequivocally reject this bill.

“In an attempt to increase union membership at any cost, this bill would make radical changes to well-established law, diminish employees’ rights to privacy and association, destroy businesses, and threaten entire industries that have fueled innovation, entrepreneurship and job creation. CDW strongly opposes this bill.”

In a letter to the House Subcommittee, CDW clearly lays out its concerns with this comprehensive – and all-consuming – piece of legislation. Learn more at

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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 their mutual concern over actions by the National Labor Relations Board, which threaten entrepreneurs, other employers, employees and economic growth.

CDW op-ed warns of a ‘card-check’ sequel that’s worse than the original

Today, the Washington Examiner published an op-ed from Coalition for a Democratic Workplace chair Kristen Swearingen York titled “Stealing workers’ secret ballots: A ‘card-check’ sequel that’s worse than the original,” which reads:

Summer is the season for bad sequels. This time, it’s a handful of U.S. lawmakers — led by Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., kowtowing to union bosses ahead of the 2020 election by trying to revive the old, audience-panned “card check” bill from last decade, with a host of new villainous additions.

Those unfortunate enough to recall the original 2005 release of the deceptively named “Employee Free Choice Act” can’t forget its main antagonist — “card check” — a provision that would strip workers’ right to vote privately on whether to unionize their workplace. Opinion polls consistently showed that employees, including those in union households, routinely rejected this affront to workplace democracy. EFCA went beyond killing voting rights, however, with a provision that would have given unelected, unqualified, and unaccountable third parties plenary power over private contracts via “binding interest arbitration.”

It didn’t work, fortunately. Despite aggressive union lobbying and Democratic control of the White House and both chambers of Congress, EFCA was unpopular and had to be abandoned.

Fast forward to the present and Sanders, Warren, and likely 2020 presidential candidates Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., have introduced the cynically mislabeled “Workplace Democracy Act.” This is just more than just a devious effort to revive card check and binding interest arbitration. It also includes provisions to strike right-to-work legal protections for employees in 28 states, curb opportunities for people to work independently through gig economy platforms or contractor roles, and codify the National Labor Relations Board’s controversial joint employment standard that continues to threaten our nation’s small and local businesses.

If these points aren’t concerning enough, the bill would also interfere with attorney-client confidentiality and make it harder for businesses, and particularly small businesses, to secure legal advice on complex labor law matters.

Finally, it would strip away “secondary boycott” protections, which prevent unions using their exemptions from antitrust laws and immunity from some state laws from targeting business for anti-competitive reasons and purposes other than organizing.

While this all may just seem like a “Fantasia” for union lobbyists, the threat is real. Organized labor almost convinced Congress to pass EFCA in 2010. And if we learned anything from the eight years of anti-business decisions by the Obama-era National Labor Relations Board, bad labor policy does nothing to promote robust job growth nor to increase wages.

It is conventional wisdom that a Democratic presidential candidate cannot emerge as the party’s nominee without extensive support from labor unions. And union officials have made signing onto the Workplace Democracy Act the ante to be considered for labor’s war chest that still holds hundreds of millions of dollars.

Nonetheless, supporters have remained fairly quiet about the bill. It’s not surprising, considering the reception the public gave it last time around.

The media outreach is part of a six-figure, ongoing campaign by CDW to warn of this “Workplace Democracy Attack.”

National Coalition Warns Of Sanders and Warren’s “Workplace Democracy Attack”

FOR RELEASE: June 20, 2018

National Coalition Warns Of Sanders and Warren’s “Workplace Democracy Attack”
Coalition for a Democratic Workplace Calls Out Card Check Sequel

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW) launched a multi-prong educational campaign to push back against the so-called “Workplace Democracy Act”—an unwise, unfair, anti-democratic bill that revives the failed “card check” scheme to eliminate secret ballot elections.

The initial six figure launch includes a new website and a full-page ad in USA Today warning of the “Cracked Vision for 2020” co-sponsored by Sens. Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), all of whom would need union support if they seek the 2020 Democratic nomination. The ad warns that the card check sequel “is worse than the first.”

Areas of distribution will include Washington, D.C., Burlington, Vermont, and Boston, Massachusetts to ensure that the staffs and electorates for Sen. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are alerted to this direct attack on workplace democracy.

CDW chair Kristen Swearingen York said, “In anticipation of the 2020 elections, unions’ Washington lobbyists are up to their old tricks, trying to buy influence and pushing changes that would allow them to steamroll over the rights of workers, small and local businesses, entrepreneurs and the gig economy all in the name of making it easier to unionize.”

She continued, “It’s was hard to fathom legislation worse than the card check bill that went down in flames less than a decade ago, until we saw this rotten sequel. We are disappointed that four senators and possible presidential contenders are so out of touch with America that they would support a bill that obviously inflicts substantial harm on workers, small businesses, entrepreneurs, and job creators. Our goal is to ensure there is enough visibility on this issue that moderate, sensible elected leaders across the country will oppose this Workplace Democracy Attack.”

The Coalition today also sent a letter to legislators co-signed by more than 125 national and local organizations opposing the bill. The letter can be found here.

The campaign also launched, where more information can be found on the details of the cynically misnamed “Workplace Democracy Act.”

The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace represents 500 national and local organizations, associations, non-profits, and employers. It worked extensively to defeat card check legislation from 2005 to 2010 and has successfully litigated against anti-democratic, anti-employer, and anti-employee legislation and regulation.


Document Lays Out Path for Trump Appointees to Protect Employees and Employers

WASHINGTON, D.C. // DECEMBER 6, 2016 // Today, the nationwide coalition of more than 600 associations, companies, and advocacy organizations released a report thoroughly examining the record of the National Labor Relations Board under President Obama, during which Obama appointees overturned 4,559 years of legal precedent as the Board became a full-time tool of organized labor. The report promises to be a useful resource for the incoming administration of President-elect Trump and the 115th Congress.

CDW chair Kristen Swearingen said, “The Obama NLRB quickly moved from groundbreaking to rule-breaking with unwise and sometimes unlawful efforts to turn away from established principles. In fact, as this report lays out, the Obama labor board overturned more than 4,500 years of precedent in just five years.”

Michael Lotito, coauthor of the report and Co-Chair of Littler Mendelson’s Workplace Policy Institute, stated, “Long established precedent forms the bedrock of our legal system.  It is time to return to basic principles of decision making which is in the best interest of the Board, those who it serves and our judicial system in general.”

Learn more and find the report here.

CDW Statement in Advance of House Ed and Workforce Hearing on DOL Rule

Coalition of over 600 groups says Labor Dept. Persuader Rule Ignores Public Disagreement  

Washington, D.C. –This Wednesday, April 27 the House Education and Workforce Committee has scheduled a hearing on the Department of Labor “Persuader” Rule.  In advance of the hearing, The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW) released the following statement from CDW Chair Kristen Swearingen:

“The DOL has not only ignored thousands of public comments submitted when imposing the “persuader” regulation, but also disregarded the clear requirements Congress imposed on rulemaking procedures.  As a result, the DOL has offered a flawed regulation that will bring harm to millions of small and mid-sized American businesses.”

“Kudos to the House Education and Workforce Committee for recognizing this blatant disregard for public comments and hosting this hearing today.”

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House Hearing This Wed @ 10am on Persuader The House Education and Workforce Committee has scheduled a hearing for this Wednesday, April 27, at 10 am entitled “The Persuader Rule: The Administration’s Latest Attack on Employer Free Speech and Worker Free Choice.” The witness list and link for the live webcast are posted here.

Video: Explaining The “Persuader Rule”

The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace released a video explaining the threats to small business and attorney-client relationship posed by a Department of Labor rule that would remove an advice exemption to the “persuader” rule.

Coalition for Democratic Workplace Statement on Resolution to Block Persuader Regulation

Rep. Byrne introduces resolution to block the controversial rule

Washington, D.C. –The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW) released the following statement from CDW Chair Kristen Swearingen in response to the introduction of a resolution by Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL) that would block the controversial persuader rule:

“Congressman Byrne has again shown himself to be a champion for hard-working Americans and business owners. The DOL’s final “persuader” rule is another example of the Obama Administration’s attempt to unfairly give advantage to the labor unions. Congressman Byrne’s leadership in introducing H.J. Res 87, is appreciated by the Coalition for Democratic Workplace and all 600 of its members.”

What They Are Saying about DOL’s Persuader Rule: March 30, 2016

(Washington, D.C.) March 30, 2016 – Since the U.S. Department of Labor announced changes to the reporting requirement for persuader agreements, many have voiced concerns about the potential impacts of the rule on U.S. companies.  The following is a sample of what some are saying:

Jay Timmons, President and CEO for the National Association of Manufacturers. The Philadelphia Inquirer (3/24, Von Bergen): “For small and medium-sized manufacturers especially, this ‘revision’ could silence employers for no good reason.”

David French, vice president of government relations for the National Retail FederationThe Post and Courier (3/23; Wren): “The end result 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.”

Robert Cresanti, president and chief executive officer for International Franchise Association. Reuters (3/23) “The DOL must have created this rule with the real intent of assisting organized labor because they are the only ones who stand to gain anything from this.”

John Kline (R-Minn.) House Education and the Workforce Committee chairman and Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee chairman. The Washington Examiner (3/23, Higgins): “This rule will chill employer free speech and make it harder for small business owners to navigate a host of complex labor rules. … The administration has made it clear they’re not interested in fair or democratic union elections. They’re interested in tilting the balance of power toward union interests — no matter the costs.”

Leslie Rutledge, attorney general, ArkansasTimes Record (3/24, Lyon): “The Administration ignored the concern raised by attorneys general that the requirements contained in this rule will fall squarely on the backs of Arkansas small businesses, and failure to comply could result in heavy penalties.  Rules like this will continue to discourage job growth and hinder economic development.”

CDW Statement on Federal Lawsuit Against DOL

Coalition of over 600 organizations says Labor Dept. Persuader Rule Contrary to Constitution and Other Governing Law

Washington, D.C. –The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW) released the following statement from CDW Chair Kristen Swearingen upon filing suit against the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) challenging the Department’s rule changing reporting requirements for so-called “persuader” agreements:

“In publishing this unconstitutionally vague rule, DOL has ignored the clear language of the underlying statute, the procedural requirements Congress imposed on agency rulemaking and the thousands of comments submitted by small businesses and other stakeholders.”

“The rule is unfair and unnecessary. Employers already have to report when they hire consultants to speak with employees, so any additional requirements are simply redundant. The Department’s new rule will make it harder for employers to lawfully communicate with employees about unions and other workforce issues, unlawfully depriving them of their right to free speech under the First Amendment and the National Labor Relations Act. It will limit employees’ access to important information on a host of workplace issues, including on whether a union seeking to represent them is providing employees with all the facts.”

“The new rule fails to impose any transparency on the labor unions, which unbeknownst to employees regularly rely on high paid PR firms, front groups and salts to influence the employees’ views on their employer and the union itself.”

“With no other recourse, CDW joins seven other plaintiffs in petitioning the Federal District Court in Arkansas to overturn this ruling.”

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

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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