New DOL Rule Demands the Curtain Be Pulled Aside on Union Busting Consultants
April 6, 2016 by Andrew Baker
“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. The great Oz has spoken,” the actor Frank Morgan thundered in the famous 1939 movie. If you believe in what an outside expert drafted for you to say to your employees, if you were willing to pay the outsider to help you say it, then open the curtain and reveal who scripted the message and managed its delivery.
This is how US Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez announced the Department of Labor’s new regulations enforcing the federal law mandating disclosure of information about management “labor persuaders.”
Federal labor law since 1959 has required employers to publicly disclose information about consultants they use to deliver anti-union messages to their employees. A longstanding loophole, however, allows employers to hire consultants to create materials, strategies and policies for organizing campaigns – and even to script managers’ communications with employees – without disclosing anything, as long as the consultant does not directly contact employees. The new rule closes the loophole by requiring that employers and the consultants they hire file reports not only for direct persuader activities – consultants talking to workers – but also for indirect persuader activities – consultants scripting what managers and supervisors say to workers. The report must not only identify the “persuader,” but also the fees involved.
“Workers should know who is behind an anti-union message. It’s a matter of basic fairness,” said Labor Secretary Perez. “This new rule will allow workers to know whether the messages they’re hearing are coming directly from their employer or from a paid, third-party consultant.”
The new rule will be applicable to arrangements, agreements, and payments made on or after July 1, 2016. The final rule and additional information is available on the OLMS website at http://www.dol.gov/olms/regs/compliance/ecr_finalrule.htm.
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