Obama promises veto of Alexander-sponsored bill to reverse NLRB rule

By Andrew Taylor, Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Republicans controlling the Senate moved Tuesday to try to reverse a new National Labor Relations Board rule that would shorten the time between a union’s request for representation and the vote on whether to certify a union.

But the White House promised to veto the measure just before the Senate’s 53-45 party-line vote.

Senate Republicans are employing a little-used process that allows Congress to pass a bill to try to reverse agency regulations without the threat of a Democratic filibuster. A final vote is likely on Wednesday.

But the promised veto by President Barack Obama would kill the effort since it takes a two-thirds vote by both the House and Senate to override him.

The White House statement said the NLRB’s “modest reforms will help simplify and streamline private sector union elections, thereby reducing delays before workers can have a free and fair vote on whether or not to form or join a union.”

Republicans countered that the new policy would allow unions to force “ambush elections” that limit the ability of employers to make the case against a union. Bill sponsor Lamar Alexander said the rule would shorten the time between a union petition and a representation election from the current median of 38 days to as few as 11 days.

The new rule would also give unions the email addresses and telephone numbers of workers to more easily communicate with them in advance of a vote.

“It forces a union election before an employer has the time to figure out what’s going on,” Alexander said. Even worse, it jeopardizes employees’ privacy by requiring employers to turn over employees’ personal information, including email addresses, phone numbers, shift hours and locations to union organizers.”

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., countered that “too often, big corporations take advantage of loopholes in the current election process to delay a vote on union representation. Unnecessary litigation and excessive delays threaten the rights of workers who want to have a free and fair election.”

The rule is scheduled to take effect in April.