Labor Department begins rescission of 'persuader rule'

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R. Alexander Acosta
R. Alexander Acosta

The Trump administration formally has indicated its intent to rescind the Obama-era “persuader rule” that would have required employers to publicly report all union-related communication with attorneys.

Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta sent a directive to the White House Office of Management and Budget on Monday and also wrote an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal that day in which he said that the department “will engage in a new rule-making process, proposing to rescind the rule.” The persuader rule, Acosta wrote, “would make it harder for businesses to obtain legal advice.”

The OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs will review Acosta's proposed rulemaking and, if it is approved, it will be published in the Federal Register, where public comments will be accepted.

The fate of the rule, which was finalized in March 2016 with an intended implementation date of July 1, 2016, already was uncertain. A federal judge temporarily blocked it from going into effect in June 2016, and then he issued a permanent injunction in November, although the Labor Department could have appealed. The rule faced other court challenges, too, however.

The rule would have required employers to disclose agreements they entered into with third-party consultants, also known as persuaders, to try to influence the outcome of union-organizing and collective bargaining campaigns. Employers also would have been required to notify employees when they developed plans for supervisors to influence workers, created anti-union materials and led seminars against forming unions or collective bargaining.

Tuesday, Argentum President and CEO James Balda said that his organization supports the Trump administration's move, calling the original rule “flawed” because it “discourages employers from seeking counsel regarding labor issues.”

Argentum said it will file comments expressing the group's support, as will the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace. More than 600 organizations belong to the coalition, including Argentum, the National Center for Assisted Living, the American Seniors Housing Association, LeadingAge Colorado and the National Multifamily Housing Council.

The coalition previously had called for nullification of the rule.

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