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Congress, NRF Seek to Curb Pro-Union Moves

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Angry over recent National Labor Relations Board rulings and regulations that would make it easier to unionize workers in retail stores and other businesses, members of Congress are moving closer to passage of legislation that would overturn the agency’s actions.

Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) has introduced a resolution that would use the Congressional Review Act to overturn regulations that will allow unions to conduct “ambush” elections with little warning to employers. While rarely used, the Congressional Review Act is a mechanism that allows Congress to curb “runaway agencies” and can pass the Senate on a simple 51-vote majority.

House Education and Workforce Committee chairman John Kline (R-Minn.) has introduced a companion bill to Enzi’s resolution. Kline is also the sponsor of a bill the House passed in November that would overturn the ambush elections regulation, a ruling that would allow unions to cherry pick departments or employees within a company and a pending proposal requiring companies to give workers’ phone numbers and personal e-mail addresses to union organizers.

The regulations adopted by the NLRB allow an election to be held in as little as 14 days (compared with the current median of 37 days) and would defer any legal challenges brought by employers until after voting has taken place.

Retail impact
Unions could spend months quietly trying to organize workers, then spring an election on an employer without sufficient time to make the argument against unionization. Ambush elections were a component of the Employee Free Choice Act “card check” bill that NRF helped defeat in 2007. Even though the bill failed, unions sought to use the NLRB to get its provisions enacted administratively, and President Obama’s subsequent appointment of pro-union board members — including a former AFL-CIO staff counsel who served until January — enabled recent actions to pass on narrow party-line votes.

What NRF is doing
NRF leads the lobbying committee of the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, which was formed to defeat card check and filed a lawsuit in December to overturn the NLRB regulations. In the past few months, NRF has filed comments with the NLRB saying the regulations would “eviscerate” the careful balance of labor law, rallied retailers to help pass the House bill to reverse the NLRB and is now organizing retail support for Enzi’s current bill.

What you can do
Retailers concerned about the issue should contact their senators immediately, and can go to NRF’s action center at www.RetailMeansJobs.com/cardcheck to learn more and see how to get involved.

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