Argentum asks government to address 'regulatory overreach' by NLRB

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James Balda
James Balda

Congress and the new administration should prioritize addressing the “regulatory overreach” that has occurred via the National Labor Relations Board for the past eight years, Argentum President and CEO James Balda wrote in a letter to the leaders of the House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions on Tuesday.

“We believe the subcommittee should carefully examine the serious impact associated with the NLRB's unprecedented policy changes over the past eight years. These changes, if not addressed, will continue to negatively impact not only labor relations among management and workers, but for Argentum, the senior living residents we serve,” Balda wrote in the letter, sent to be included as part of the record for a hearing on the NLRB that the subcommittee held that day.

Labor-related priorities for Congress and the new administration, Balda said, should include addressing:

  • The “ambush elections” rule, designed to speed up union elections by allowing petitions and other documents to be filed electronically instead of by mail. The rule also delays employer legal challenges to elections until after workers have voted and requires employers to provide unions with the personal email addresses of workers.

  • “Micro unions,” smaller groups of organized employees that proponents say can help make working conditions fairer for workers but opponents maintain could force employers to bargain with multiple unions at the same location.

  • The joint employer standard, which holds that a company must exhibit only the potential to exert control over terms and conditions of employment, rather than have “direct and immediate” control as had been the previous standard, to be considered responsible for decisions related to worker wages and working conditions. Browning-Ferris Industries is hoping to overturn the rule in a case for which oral arguments are scheduled to begin March 9.

In remarks prepared for the committee hearing, Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI), subcommittee chairman, said that the ambush election rule “chills employer free speech, cripples worker free choice and jeopardizes the privacy of workers and their families,” that micro unions “gerrymander the workplace, thereby limiting the workplace mobility of employees and tying up employers in red tape,” and that the joint employer standard “will destroy jobs and make it harder for entrepreneurs and small businesses to pursue the American dream.”

Rep. Gregorio Sablan (D-Northern Mariana Islands), the subcommittee's ranking member, said that the National Labor Relations Act, which the independent NLRB was created to enforce, was meant to “strengthen unions as an institution in our economy to ensure that wealth is more fairly shared.”

“When you consider that private-sector unions represent a mere 6.4% of the workforce, it is troubling that the committee has directed so much time on this small, independent agency,” he said. “But attacks on the NLRB are what they are, a proxy for attacks on unions.”

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