Department of Labor’s Persuader Rule Promotes Transparency for Working People
Democrats applaud DOL’s effort to restore congressional intent by requiring union avoidance consultants, employers to report on their “persuasion” activities
WASHINGTON – Today, the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions (HELP), held a hearing entitled, “The Persuader Rule: The Administration’s Latest Attack on Employer Free Speech and Worker Free Choice.” The hearing addressed the Department of Labor’s (DOL) final persuader rule, which requires employers and “union avoidance consultants” to report their persuader arrangements to DOL, pursuant to the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) of 1959.
When workers seek to organize and bargain collectively, employers often enlist the assistance of outside labor relations consultants – known as “persuaders” or union avoidance consultants – to orchestrate and roll out professionally managed anti-union campaigns. Under the DOL’s persuader rule, consultants and attorneys who engage in these persuader activities – and the employers who hire them – must disclose their agreements and a description of the services to be performed, including the amount employers paid for these services. This rule closes a longstanding loophole that allowed employers and consultants to evade reporting.
“We all perceive messages differently knowing who the speaker is,” said Bobby Scott (VA-03), Ranking Member of the Committee on Education and the Workforce. “When workers are better informed about their employer’s message on union representation, the integrity of the election process is stronger. Consistent with federal law, the DOL has provided long overdue transparency to the activities of union-avoidance consultants that have been shrouded for over fifty years. I strongly believe in workplace democracy, and this rule is a way to make that better.”
“Employees should be able to know who is behind the propaganda given to them during union organizing efforts,” stated Rep. Jared Polis (CO-02), Ranking Member of the HELP Subcommittee. “Under the final persuader rule, the curtain will be pulled back, and workers will be able to learn how much money their employer is spending on outside union-avoidance consultants, just as employers can already examine the expenditures of unions and their consultants in their organizing efforts.”
Studies show that the union avoidance industry has grown since the LMRDA’s implementation in 1959. In 1990 it was estimated to produce revenues of $200 million a year, and employers hire union-avoidance persuaders in as many as 87 percent of union organizing campaigns.
Democratic witness, Jonathan Newman, an attorney who represents labor unions and their affiliated organizations, testified before the Committee. Jon has also been a member of the American Bar Association since 1994.
“The transparency mandated by the [persuader] Rule will enable employees to make a more informed choice,” said Jon Newman in his written testimony. “The Rule will ensure that workers are no longer kept in the dark about their employers’ use of anti-union consultants, making the title of today’s hearing – ‘the Administration’s attack on . . . worker free choice,’ particularly Orwellian.”
A recent report by Committee Democrats shows that restoring unions’ strength is critical to helping working people receive a fair share of the wealth they create. On average, unionized workers earn $207 more per week than non-unionized workers. Unionized workers also have more access to paid holidays, paid sick leave, life insurance, medical and retirement benefits than those workers who are not unionized.
Committee Democrats offered strong support for the DOL’s final persuader rule which gives workers the information that they need to decide how to exercise their voice and cast their votes in union elections.
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