• On May 29, Republican House of Representative Members John Kline and Phil Roe sent a letter to the Department of Labor to oppose a proposed regulation that could require law firms engaged in certain labor relations activities to file reports under the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (“LMRDA”). Under the LMRDA, labor relations consultants that engage in “persuader” activities—such as representing a company in opposing a union organizing campaign—must file with the Department of Labor detailed financial statements and disclosures about their activities on behalf of the companies that hire them. The LMRDA includes an exception to this rule for anyone that provides labor relations “advice” to a company. For the past 50 years, the Labor Department has interpreted this “advice” exception to apply to law firms’ labor relations activities, provided law firms do not directly communicate with employees. But in June 2011, the Labor Department proposed revising the “advice” exception to require firms to file reports even if they do not communicate directly with employees. The proposed rule change generated 9,000 public comments, with businesses uniformly opposing the rule. In their letter, Representatives Kline and Roe told the Acting Labor Secretary, Seth Harris, that the Representatives have concerns about the regulatory burdens the rule would impose and the potential for the rule to impact the confidentiality of the attorney-client relationship. The Representatives asked the Acting Secretary to provide them with “all documents and communications” related to the regulatory burden of the proposed rule.
  • The House of Representatives voted down an amendment that would have prohibited using federal money to “implement, administer, or enforce” the prevailing wage rules in the Davis-Bacon Act. Under the Davis-Bacon Act, businesses performing construction work on a government contract must pay a local prevailing wage to workers. Democrats united in opposing the amendment and 36 Republicans broke ranks and joined the Democrats in voting against the amendment. The AFL-CIO’s Building and Construction Trades Department applauded the House’s rejection of the amendment.
  • Republican House of Representatives members introduced a pair of bills on June 13 to amend the NLRA. The first bill is entitled the Secret Ballot Protection Act and would ensure that workers have the right to participate in secret-ballot elections to decide whether to be represented by a union. The second bill is entitled the Representation Fairness Act and would reverse the impact of the NLRB’s Specialty Healthcare decision, which authorized narrowly defined bargaining units often called “micro-units.” Democratic spokesperson Aaron Albright denounced the legislation as anti-union and said the bills have no chance of passing.
  • Several advocacy groups have placed advertisements in Capital Hill-area publications to urge the Senate to confirm the President’s five NLRB nominations. The advocacy groups include the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the NAACP, and the Sierra Club. The advertisements assert that a fully functioning NLRB is necessary to protect minority workers and the environment. Unless the President’s nominations are confirmed, the Board will lack a quorum when Chairman Mark Gaston Peace’s term expires August 27, 2013. The groups placed advertisements in such publications as Politico, Roll Call, and The Hill.