Workforce Freedom Initiative

The Workforce Freedom Initiative is a grassroots mobilization and advocacy campaign of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to preserve democracy in the American workplace, restrain abusive union pension fund activism, and block the anti-competitive agenda advocated by many labor unions.


The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB or Board) engaged in massive regulatory overreach during the Obama administration.  Rather than acting as an impartial referee, the Board aggressively carried out a one-sided agenda aimed at growing labor unions at any cost.  

Fortunately, the NLRB has new members and a new General Counsel, who have already begun restoring the appropriate balance to labor law.  For example, the new NLRB:

  • Overturned the Browning-Ferris decision, which massively, and improperly, expanded the number of businesses that could be deemed “joint employers.”
  • Overturned the Specialty Healthcare decision that allowed unions to form “micro-units” that made no sense and upended collective bargaining.
  • Revised the Lutheran Heritage standard for reviewing employee handbook policies, which had allowed the Obama-era Board to penalize employers all over the country for maintaining common-sense policies like requiring courtesy in the workplace.
  • Issued a new General Counsel memo requiring many controversial Obama-era regulatory policies to get special review.

However, there is still more work to be done to ensure that labor law works for both employees and employers. This includes:

  • Agency Staffing: Former NLRB Chairman Phil Miscimarra’s term expired in December 2017, and the administration named Marvin Kaplan as Board Chairman.  However, this leaves the Board with a 2-2 split along party lines.  Until the U.S. Senate confirms a replacement for the fifth seat on the Board, the agency will be deadlocked on many issues.
  • Arbitration Agreements:  In D.R. Horton and Murphy Oil, the Obama-era NLRB tried to prohibit the use of employment arbitration agreements.  These agreements speed up the resolution of workplace disputes and reduce the need for expensive class action litigation.  However, the Board claimed that arbitration agreements violate Section 7 rights to engage in concerted activity.  The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling in these cases in the near future.  Nonetheless, the Board should expressly reverse D.R. Horton and Murphy Oil.
  • Union “Ambush” Elections:  In December 2017, the newly-constituted NLRB asked the public if it should keep, modify, or get rid of its “ambush” elections rule. This rule requires employers to turn over to union organizers personal information about their workers, such as phone numbers, e-mail accounts and home addresses.  It also strips employers of their due process rights and makes it harder to respond to a union organizing campaign.  By shortening the time period before an election, it also may prevent employees from getting fully informed about a critical workplace decision like voting for or against a union.  Rulemaking should ensure that the elections process works fairly.
  • Congressional Activity:  The positive changes listed above will last only so long as a balanced Board majority lasts.  That’s why Congress needs to pass legislation like the Save Local Business Act that would enshrine in law a sensible joint employer standard.  Congress should also pass the Workplace Democracy and Fairness Act, to lock in place fair union election procedures.

The NLRB has finally started to turn the corner.  Now the administration and Congress need to ensure that this progress continues.

Recent Activity

Issue BriefJan 01, 2018 - 9:00am

Protect Small Business Owners by Enshrining a Proper Definition of Joint Employer into Law

Congress can protect small business ownership by enshrining a clear standard for determining “joint employer” status...

ArticleDec 18, 2017 - 2:15pm

NLRB Overturns 'Specialty Healthcare'

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on December 15 overturned its controversial 2011 decision in Specialty Healthcare...

ArticleDec 15, 2017 - 4:30pm

Vox Hypocrita

A recent article in Politico’s labor and employment blog Morning Shift revealed an interesting, and also illustrative, tale involving Vox...

ArticleDec 15, 2017 - 9:00am

NLRB Reestablishes Commonsense Joint Employer Standard

Yesterday, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) reversed its deeply-flawed 2015 Browning-Ferris decision...

ArticleDec 15, 2017 - 9:00am
NLRB Theater of the Absurd report cover image

NLRB Brings Curtain Down on ‘Theater of the Absurd’ Handbook Rulings

In addition to a major ruling returning to a commonsense joint employer standard, yesterday the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)...

ArticleDec 08, 2017 - 10:45am

A New Sheriff at the NLRB

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has a new sheriff in the form of Peter B. Robb, its new General Counsel.

ReportDec 06, 2017 - 12:15am

The Emerging Role of Worker Centers in Union Organizing: An Update and Supplement

In November 2013, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce published a Working Paper, The Emerging Role of Worker Centers in Union Organizing: A Strategic Assessment, which examined the complex relationship between worker centers and traditional labor unions, and delineated the extensive funding of the worker center movement by activist foundations during the period 2009-2012. The present essay reviews that analysis in the light of subsequent developments, and, using data from public filings and reports covering the period 2013-2016, brings forward our examination of the mechanisms by which the labor movement and the philanthropic community support this form of organizing.

ArticleDec 06, 2017 - 12:15am
The Emerging Role of Worker Centers in Union Organizing: An Update and Supplement

The Emerging Role of Worker Centers: An Update

The Workforce Freedom Initiative (WFI) today released a new report titled The Emerging Role of Worker Centers in Union Organizing...

ArticleNov 07, 2017 - 7:00pm
U.S. House of Representatives

House Passes Joint Employer Bill

The U.S. House of Representatives today approved the Save Local Business Act (H.R. 3441)...

ArticleNov 06, 2017 - 10:15am

Calling the Culinary Union’s Bluff

For several years now, observers of labor policy have noted the disruptive activities of UNITE HERE’s Culinary Union in Nevada...