BY TIM DEVANEY – 02/28/17 12:00 AM EST
President Trump is facing pressure to roll back union-friendly policy changes made by the Obama-era National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Workforce Freedom Initiative (WFI) published a report Monday that raises concerns about the “worst” NLRB policies issued during the Obama administration. The list includes policies that hold companies accountable for labor violations committed by their partners, speed up union elections, and allow small groups of workers to organize multiple unions inside a single company.
The NLRB is an independent agency that does not answer directly to the president, but Trump holds considerable sway, because he is preparing to nominate two Republicans to fill vacant seats on the five-member board. This would give the NLRB a GOP majority and allow it to reverse many Obama-era labor policies that Republicans have long opposed.
But thwarting these labor policies could upset many of the working-class voters who helped elect Trump last November.
Here’s a look at some of the Chamber’s top priorities for the NLRB:
Micro-unions have come under scrutiny from business groups.
In the NLRB’s 2011 Specialty Healthcare decision, the board ruled that small groups of workers can organize, even if the majority of employees across the company do not wish to form a union. This opened the door for multiple “micro-unions” to take shape inside a single company.
“In essence, unions can now gerrymander the bargaining units they wish to organize,” the Chamber writes in the report.
“Smaller groups of employees are typically easier to organize.”
The NLRB took the rare step of issuing a regulation that speeds up union elections in December 2014.
Critics refer to it as the “ambush election” rule.
The process of organizing a union dropped from an average of 42 days after petition is filed to as few as 10 days, according to the Chamber.
Labor groups claimed companies would use the additional time to intimidate workers against organizing. But businesses say the new rule does not give them enough time to respond to their employees as they consider whether to unionize.
The Chamber also raised concerns about the NLRB’s joint employer policy.
The joint employer policy makes companies vulnerable for workplace violations committed by their business partners. This is a particular concern for the restaurant industry and staffing agencies.
“The franchising industry is an obvious target of the new standard,” the Chamber wrote.
The Chamber also called on the NLRB to dump Obama-era policies that expanded workers’ picketing rights, limited arbitration clauses in employee contracts, and allowed employees to use their company email addresses to send union-released messages.