Description: When workers seek to organize and bargain collectively, employers often hire union avoidance consultants – also known as “persuaders” – to orchestrate and roll out anti-union campaigns. Union avoidance consultants may engage with workers directly to deliver their anti-union presentations, such as in face-to-face meetings. Or they may attempt to influence workers indirectly by operating behind the scenes, by creating anti-union flyers, speeches, and videos for management to use to communicate with employees.
In 1959, Congress enacted the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA), which requires employers and union avoidance consultants to publicly disclose to the Department of Labor (DOL) how much money employers paid for anti-union services. But for nearly 50 years, employers have been exploiting a loophole in the law that allows them to avoid reporting indirect anti-union work that union avoidance consultants do behind the scenes. On March 24, 2016, the DOL attempted to close that loophole with its persuader rule, which would have required employers and hired consultants to report their indirect anti-union activities. The rule has not yet been implemented because employer groups tied it up in litigation in federal court in November 2016.
The DOL has now published a notice of proposed rulemaking to repeal the Obama-era rule.
Fair Economy Impact: The persuader rule closed a massive reporting loophole that has allowed employers to keep indirect persuader activity secret. Disclosure of the large amounts of money employers pay to anti-union consultants – sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars – would allow workers to know whether the messages they hear are coming directly from their employer, or from a paid, third-party consultant. Seeing how much money employers are paying out to these consultants would provide important perspective on employers’ frequent argument that the company cannot afford to pay union wages, and would give workers the information they need to make informed choices as they pursue their right to organize. The persuader rule would have helped level the playing field for workers who want to join together to negotiate with their employer for better working conditions.
- DOL published Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to rescind the persuader rule on June 12, 2017