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Labor, Business Groups Lobby Ahead of Today's Vote on NLRB Rule Labor, Business Groups Lobby Ahead of Today's Vote on NLRB Rule

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Labor, Business Groups Lobby Ahead of Today's Vote on NLRB Rule

A Senate vote set for today on a National Labor Relations Board rule on union elections has inspired a flurry of activity from advocates for the business community and their rivals in labor groups, forcing senators to choose a side.

The NLRB rule, which would take effect April 30, shortens the required time between when a union election is announced and when it is held. Supporters say it prevents employers from unfairly delaying the election, but opponents contend it prevents employees from being fully informed before the vote, saying the rule allows for "ambush elections."

The vote is on a resolution disapproving of the rule. It faces an uphill battle in the Senate and, even if it does get through Congress, the administration said on Monday that President Obama's advisors will recommend a veto. Still, opponents of the NLRB rule have been pressuring senators to support the resolution, saying a vote against it shows they are not on the side of business.

As part of its effort, the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace - a group of employers and associations opposed to the NLRB rule - has been focusing on building grassroots support for the resolution, said its chair Geoff Burr, who is also the vice president of federal affairs at Associated Builders & Contractors. It bought ads on Facebook, for example, targeting people who "liked" certain moderate Democratic senators - including Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Mark Pryor of Arkansas - and urged them to tell their senator to support the resolution.

Some of its member organizations have also been trying to attract support for the resolution from moderate Democrats and publicizing information about the upcoming vote.

The National Retail Federation asked its members to contact their representatives to voice their support for the resolution and it sent a letter to senators warning that the rule could hurt employers' rights. The National Association of Manufacturers said Monday that it may consider adding a vote on the bill to an upcoming legislative scorecard, and the Retail Industry Leaders Association announced last week it had issued its first-ever key vote on the resolution.

"The new rule poses problems for both employers and employees," NAM's Aric Newhouse wrote in a letter to senators. "It places a considerable burden on employers, particularly for small and medium-sized manufacturers who may lack the legal expertise to navigate complex labor laws. By drastically limiting the time workers and employers can discuss pending union elections, employees may be less likely to make fully formed decisions about whether to join a union."

On the other side, the AFL-CIO has been lobbying senators to oppose the resolution. It sent out an alert to its advocates to get in touch with their senator ahead of the vote and wrote directly to senators, saying the "rule eliminates many of the barriers workers now face by reducing current delays, eliminating frivolous and duplicative litigation, and ensuring that workers have a fair vote in a reasonable period of time."

Bill Samuel, the government affairs director at AFL-CIO, told the Alley: "We've done enough education of members of Congress that we hope they agree with us. If they don't, voters will hold them accountable."

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