New US Department of Labor Rule Improves Transparency for Workers Considering Union Representation

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Did you know that employers can often employ third-party consultants to craft anti-union messages without workers’ knowledge?

To increase the transparency of these relationships, the U.S. Department of Labor will be clarifying section 203 of the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA). In the coming months, these employer-consultant agreements—commonly called “persuader agreements”—are required to be reported, in addition to the information commonly reported by unions on organizing expenditures.

While the rule takes effect on April 25, 2016, it will be start to be applicable to arrangements, agreements, and payments made on or after July 1, 2016.

“With workers having a better understanding of the true source of persuader communications, worker-supervisor and other workplace relationships are likely to proceed more smoothly no matter what is decided regarding union representation,” said Office of Labor-Management Standards Director Michael Hayes.

Previously, the LMRDA contained a loophole whereby employers were allowed to hire consultants without workers’ knowledge—as long as the consultants did not directly contact employees. Now, reporting is required on “actions, conduct or communications that are undertaken with an object, explicitly or implicitly, directly or indirectly, to affect an employee’s decisions regarding his or her representation or collective bargaining rights.”

“This new rule will allow workers to know whether the messages they’re hearing are coming directly from their employer or from a paid, third-party consultant,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “Full disclosure of persuader agreements gives workers the information they need to make informed choices about how they pursue their rights to organize and bargain collectively. As in all elections, more information means better decisions.”

To find out more information on the final rule, click here to visit the U.S. Department of Labor’s website.