GOP-Run House Panel Approves Anti-NLRB Bills; Board Holds hearings on Election Procedures

WASHINGTON –By party-line votes, the highly polarized Republican-run House Education and the Workforce Committee approved two bills curbing the National Labor Relations Board, even as the board held two days of hearings on its plan to streamline union recognition election procedures.

Committee Democrats called the GOP measures “union-busting bills” and unsuccessfully tried to attach to them legislation to raise the minimum wage and promote equal pay for equal work and improve coal mine safety.

“Instead of focusing on anti-worker bills, this committee should be considering legislation that makes a real difference in peoples’ lives — legislation that creates jobs, safeguards Americans from discrimination, protects workers’ health and safety, and helps millions receive a fair wage,” said Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., its top Democrat.

“But once again, Republicans proved they are more interested in stripping wor-kers of their rights than they are in supporting families and growing our economy.  They voted to block every attempt to take up these popular, bipartisan measures,” he stated.

While lawmakers wrangled over the NLRB and other worker-related issues, the board itself held two days of hearings on its proposals to streamline union recognition election procedures, April 10-11.

A parade of witnesses from both labor and business discussed the agency’s plans to require one post-election hearing on all complaints involving that proposed bargaining unit, to allow electronic filing of documents and evidence and to set deadlines for filing objections to a vote.

Union witnesses strongly supported the NLRB’s proposals, saying they would cut down on the endless delays and denial of workers’ rights to organize, vote for or against unionization, and collectively bargain.  Business, echoing the GOP, charged the NLRB with promoting “ambush elections.”

The GOP’s legislation was designed to lengthen the time businesses can use to intimidate, harass and fire workers and otherwise break labor law during an election campaign.  It would set a minimum of 35 days for an election campaign.  It also would:

  • Give employers at least two weeks to prepare their cases before an NLRB officer’s hearing.
  • Order the board “to address critical issues,” such as who is in the bargaining unit, before the vote.  Employers often use such “critical issues” to delay and deny votes.
  • Ban disclosure of workers’ contact information, after the union files election recognition cards, beyond name and “one additional piece of contact information” chosen by the worker.
  • Repeal the NLRB’s Specialty Healthcare ruling.  Committee Republicans charge that the board, in that case, allows “micro-unions” – more than one union within the same firm or workplace.

-PAI