The NLRB stated that its proposed regulations to streamline the union election process are on the Board’s agenda for 2014. The Board first proposed union election rules in June 2011. A scaled-back version of the proposal was finalized in December 2011 and was briefly put into effect in April 2012. However, the Board suspended implementation of the rules in May 2012, after a federal judge invalidated the Board’s vote due to the lack of a valid Board quorum. The NLRB has appealed the ruling, but the appeal is currently on hold pending the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Noel Canning.
A group of 21 Republican senators led by Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), and John Thune (R-S. Dak.) urged the Office of Management and Budget to scrap a plan exempting unions from an Affordable Care Act fee that will be levied against businesses, charities, and faith-based organizations for each employee whose health insurance they cover. In a letter to OMB Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the Senators argued that carving unions out of the reinsurance fee would be unfair. The fee is intended to mitigate the risk of health insurers potentially not signing up enough people in their new exchange-based plans, or not enrolling enough young people, to offset the costs of coverage for older participants. The Senators claimed that if the regulation exempting unions from the reinsurance fee is allowed to go through, Congress should amend or repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), joined by 22 Republican co-sponsors, introduced legislation (S. 1712) that would make a number of changes to representation election procedures. Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) introduced a companion bill (H.R. 3485) in the House. S. 1712 would, among other things, amend the NLRA to: mandate that in secret ballot elections, a majority of all employees in a proposed bargaining unit – rather than a majority of employees voting in the election– would need to vote in favor of representation for a union to be recognized; allow employees to opt out of having all of their personal contact information and work schedule shared with union organizers; mandate that an election take place whenever a bargaining unit experiences turnover, expansion or alteration by merger of units; and mandate that elections be conducted without regard to the pendency of any unfair labor practice charges against the employer or union. In addition to changes to the NLRA, the bill would also amend the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act to: require that workers in bargaining units represented by unions, but who are not union members, have the same rights to vote on whether or not to ratify collective bargaining agreements; prohibit union dues or fees from being used for any purpose not directly related to the unions’ collective bargaining or contract administration functions on behalf of the represented unit employee unless the employee authorizes it; and strengthen prohibitions on the use or threat of violence un union organizing drives and collective bargaining.
George Cohen, the director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), is resigning after four years of service. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee announced that it was investigating allegations of excessive spending, improper use of government purchase cars, conflicts of interest, contracting irregularities, and whistle-blower retaliation at the agency. Cohen stated that he informed the White House of his plans to resign before the committee’s announcement, and has also stated that he has met his key objectives as FMCS director.