Last month, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) took steps to lessen the influence of for-hire consultants and attorneys who engage in union busting for companies looking to tamp down on organizing on their job sites. Naturally, big business didn’t like it. And now, in a surprise to no one, Republicans in Congress are running to help their corporate cronies.
The House Education and Workforce Committee is set to hold a hearing later this week in an effort to do away with the DOL’s “persuader rule,” saying it violates companies’ First Amendment rights. Such a finding would be comical if it weren’t so sad. Earlier this month, Rep. Bradley Byrne of Alabama introduced a resolution because he said the new rule would upend years of legal precedent.
“I am proud to introduce legislation to protect hardworking Americans and employers from a rule that would restrict privacy, upend the attorney-client relationship, and limit employee access to information during an organizing campaign,” he said in a release.
Of course, as Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa himself noted, the rule change does none of those things. It is merely a method to crack down on corporate America’s shadiest anti-union behaviors. As Hoffa wrote in the Huffington Post:
“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).
“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 behavior of the GOP majority of the House Education and Workforce Committee is all-too predictable. It’s a reminder why workers have to let their voice be heard at the ballot box this November.