In a new comment submitted to the Department of Labor, EPI Associate Labor Counsel Marni von Wilpert argues that the “Persuader Rule,” which is designed to add transparency to union elections by requiring companies to disclose when they hire professional union busters, should not be rescinded.
Von Wilpert notes that up to 87 percent of employers fight their employees’ efforts to unionize by hiring professional anti-union consultants—“persuaders”—to thwart union organizing drives. Union-busting firms promise to equip employers with campaign strategies and opposition research, as well as produce anti-union videos, literature, and PowerPoint presentations for employers to deploy. Employers spend large amounts of money to hire these anti-union consultants—sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars. The union-avoidance industry has been estimated to be a $1 billion industry.
Despite a federal law that requires employers and anti-union consultants to publicly disclose their persuader activities, a significant amount of anti-union organizing has gone unreported because of a loophole in DOL’s regulations. DOL issued the Persuader Rule in 2016 to close that loophole, so that employees in the workplace can understand the source of the anti-union information they are given during a union election campaign.
“As we saw recently in Mississippi, companies can employ all sorts of anti-union tactics, which in this case resulted in the National Labor Relations Board filing an unfair-labor-practice complaint against Nissan. But without the Persuader Rule, employees and the public have no way of knowing what role anti-union persuaders may have played behind the scenes,” said von Wilpert. “The Department of Labor should hold employers accountable for disclosing their anti-union activities, which is required by federal law, and is in the best interest of American workers.”
DOL’s mission is to safeguard the welfare of America’s workers by, among other things, “strengthening free collective bargaining.” The Persuader Rule furthers that mission by taking a modest step toward leveling the playing field for workers during organizing drives, ensuring that they receive the information they deserve before choosing whether or not to form a union.
“Working people should be free to join together to bargain collectively to negotiate for higher wages and better benefits,” said von Wilpert. “An important reason behind the past four decades of stagnant wages is the decline of workers’ ability to join together and negotiate for better pay. If the DOL rescinds the Persuader Rule, it will be further evidence that Trump administration is on the side of corporations over working people.”