The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Associated Builders and Contractors and other business groups filed a lawsuit in federal court in Arkansas March 30 challenging the Department of Labor’s (DOL) final Persuader Rule.
The groups argued that DOL exceeded its statutory authority and violated business owners’ First Amendment rights by making it far more burdensome and costly to consult with legal counsel during a union organizing campaign.
The groups are asking for an injunction to block the rule from going into effect on April 25.
DOL’s final Persuader Rule limits the so-called "advice exemption" in the DOL's Persuader Rule. The rule requires employers and the experts they hire to disclose any arrangements where an expert is hired to communicate directly with employees about their decision to unionize. If the experts do not communicate directly with employees, but are simply providing "advice" to the employer about how to effectively/legally communicate with employees, this has been exempt from disclosure requirements.
DOL's new final rule narrows the scope of this "advice" exemption so that far more interactions between employers and hired experts providing advice on employee or labor relations will be subject to disclosure requirements. Because of the excessive costs associated with such disclosure, many in the employer and legal community fear that employers will no longer have access to routine legal counsel or expert advice on employee relations, human resources or employee benefits.
CDW, of which NATSO is a member, said the DOL’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. The rule will limit employees’ access to important information on a host of workplace issues, including on whether a union seeking to represent them is providing with employees with all the facts.
“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,” CDW said. “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."
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