Big Business Objects to Union Busting Transparency


A week after the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) attempted the level the playing field by closing a loophole that enabled third-party consultants and attorneys to engage in union busting, big business is biting back by suing the agency

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) along with a coalition of many Arkansas-based business groups filed suit in U.S. federal court in Arkansas on Wednesday, saying changes made to the DOL’s “persuader rule” violates their First and Fifth Amendment rights by restricting the ability of businesses to “educate” their employees.

“This complicated, vague rule fails to give manufacturers fair notice on what actions are considered forbidden and what forms of communication and outreach are considered reportable,” said NAM Senior Vice President and General Counsel Linda Kelly.

Of course, that couldn’t be further from the truth. A new policy was needed because nearly three-quarters of companies hire outside consultants and attorneys to try and defeat organizing drives. Yet these firms-for-hire could shield their activities due to an overly broad interpretation of the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA).

As Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa wrote in the Huffington Post last week, “For years, big business has taken advantage of the nation’s broken system. They’ve paid millions to consultants and law firms to do the dirty work of misdirecting and intimidating employees. In exchange, these same companies publicly could wash their hands of the whole thing.”

The Labor Department issued its final “persuader” rule language after nearly five years of consideration which will require outsiders for hire involved with creating anti-union propaganda to disclose their efforts to dissuade workers from organizing and collectively bargaining. Previously, these firms could avoid reporting such work as long as they did not directly contact workers.

The rule change puts these union-busting consultants and lawyers on equal footing as employers who must disclose such activities under LMRDA. And it also puts them on par with unions, who are required to file detailed financial disclosure forms each and every year that includes receipts and expenditures.