As the Employer Express previously reported, the U.S. Department of Labor’s proposed changes to so-called “persuader rules” – which require employers to identify labor consultants with whom they consult about influencing employee opinion in union elections, among other things – have been indefinitely delayed for unspecified reasons. The proposed rule changes very much remain on the DOL’s radar, however, and employers should keep a watchful eye on developments.
In 2001, the DOL proposed rules to vastly narrow provisions of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act in force since 1962 that protect communications labor attorneys might have with employers during union organizing and election campaigns from public disclosure. Among other things, the LMRDA requires employers to file reports with the DOL when they hire consultants or contractors to persuade employees on the issue of unions. The proposed narrowing of these rules would extend the reporting requirements to communications with labor counsel.
The proposed change garnered an exceptional level of public criticism, including from the American Bar Association, which argued that the rule would effectively (and without basis) gut an important part of the attorney-client privilege, which is one of the oldest privileges known to the law. About three weeks ago, an affiliation of 50 business groups asked the DOL to delay finalizing the regulations. This past Friday, a DOL spokesperson confirmed that rule will be delayed until a later date. The DOL has not commented on the reasons for the delayed implementation. We will keep you posted of any developments.