Labor Unions, the National Labor Relations Act, and Related Issues
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has several important policy priorities related to union-management relations laws and union financial disclosure. These priorities include ensuring that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) maintains the ability to issue balanced decisions, the method by which unions are recognized in the workplace, state and municipal attempts to encroach on the jurisdiction of the NLRB, and appropriate oversight of labor union finances.
Union Recognition – Secret Ballot Elections and Card Check Coercion
Organized labor is trying to deprive workers of the ability to choose whether or not to be recognized by a union through secret ballot elections. Workers' rights to make this important decision in private and free from coercion need to be strengthened, not weakened. Read more about the Chamber's efforts.
Encroachment on NLRB Jurisdiction
The National Labor Relations Act establishes the rights of employees, employers, and labor organizations in their relations with each other and creates special procedures, administered by the National Labor Relations Board, to ensure uniform application of these rights. With increasing frequency, state and local governments have been attempting to interfere with these rights as well as NLRB jurisdiction by enacting conflicting legislation. For example, a state might pass a bill attempting to restrict contracts or grants to employers who exercise their free speech rights under the NLRA. The Chamber, working primarily through the National Chamber Litigation Center, has vigorously defended the national system established in the NLRA. The following are some of the Chamber's briefs in these important cases:
- Metropolitan Milwaukee Chamber of Commerce v. Milwaukee County - (Milwaukee County ordinance) - PDF
- Sage Hospitality Resources, LLC v. HERE Local #57 (Pittsburg ordinance) - PDF
- Healthcare Association of New York State v. Pataki (New York statute) - PDF
- Chamber of Commerce of the United States v. Lockyer (California statute) - PDF
Union Democracy and Transparency
Knowing how a union spends its funds is necessary if employees are to have a better understanding of a labor organization's priorities, which is often an important matter for employees seeking to determine whether or not to join a union or whether to support an organizing campaign. This information is also important for employees who may be covered by a union security agreement as they determine whether or not to exercise their Beck rights (to withhold union fees attributable to political and other non-representational purposes).
On December 27, 2002, the Labor Department proposed new rules strengthening financial disclosure reports for labor unions under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA). The Chamber strongly supported the proposal and submitted comments to that effect with DOL on February 25, 2004. The AFL-CIO challenged the new regulations in court and on May 31, 2005, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld the vast majority of the proposed revisions.
LMRDA Comments (PDF)
In addition, a number of statutory revisions are necessary to further improve union accountability. The Chamber supports these proposals:
Ability of the NLRB to Issue Balanced Decisions
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) consists of five members who are appointed by the president with advice and consent of the Senate. Three members constitute a quorum, and, by tradition, four members are necessary for the Board to overturn prior decisions. Also by tradition, the Board cannot consist of more than three members from the President's political party.
In other words, the Board cannot conduct any business with fewer than three members and cannot overturn any of the dozens of wrongly decided decisions issued during the Clinton Administration without four members. Only two members of the Board are confirmed after August 2005. The Chamber has urged the president to act expeditiously in nominating individuals to these vacancies, and, if necessary, to appoint individuals to temporarily fill the vacancies in a recess capacity.