An Obama-era rule designed to grant more transparency to
union election campaigns has been rescinded by the Department of Labor.
Organizing campaigns, like the IBEW's recent victory for 700 workers at Atlanta Gas Light, could have been made easier if the Obama-era "persuader rule" had been allowed to take effect. Instead, because of a Trump Department of Labor decision, union-busting consultants can continue to deny working people fair representation without disclosure.
Known as the persuader rule, it closed a loophole in reporting requirements that placed a heavier burden on labor unions than it did on companies trying to prevent employees from joining together to fight for better wages, benefits and working conditions.
“By repealing the persuader rule, the Department of Labor is siding with corporate CEOs against good government and transparency,” AFL-CIO spokesman Josh Goldstein said in a statement. “They have thrown a dark veil over the shady groups employers hire to take away the freedoms of working people.”
The directive provided a reinterpretation of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, a law that requires labor organizations, consultants and employers to file reports and disclose expenditures on labor-management activities.
The original interpretation allowed employers to report only direct activity, but it required much more extensive reporting from labor unions, which had to disclose both direct and indirect actions. Direct activity includes things like things like consultants meeting with employees. Anything consultants do behind the scenes however, like providing talking points, scripts and letters to management, was considered indirect and therefore not subject to reporting requirements.
More than 50 businesses sued to block the rule, issued in March 2016, and it never actually went into effect because of an injunction issued by a federal judge in Texas. The Trump Labor Department, instead of pursuing appeals of the injunction, chose to remove it, reverting to the lopsided standard favoring corporations.
“The erasure of the persuader rule is the latest in an increasingly long line of decisions by the Trump administration to either return to the employer-friendly status quo or tip the scales even further away from working families,” said International President Lonnie R. Stephenson.
In December, the National Labor Relations Board issued five decisions in one week alone that rolled back rights and protections for working families. And in May, President Trump issued three executive orders designed to weaken workplace protections for federal workers.
Multiple safety protections have also been killed or delayed, including measures to strengthen standards on exposure to hazardous chemicals like carcinogens and neurotoxins.
The fiduciary rule, designed to help working people better plan for retirement – and not be ripped off by unscrupulous financial advisors – and a rule to expand overtime eligibility have also been effectively abandoned.
“Our members, like working people everywhere, go to work every day with the expectation that their basic rights and protections are not left at the door. It’s not asking too much to expect a safe workplace, fair pay and a voice on the job,” Stephenson said. “Decisions like abandoning the persuader rule, coming on the heels of so many like it, sends a message that this administration doesn’t value the men and women who truly make this country great.”