Labor Leaders Protest Labor Department Elimination of Reporting Rule

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

The Teamsters and the AFL-CIO are protesting the latest Republican Labor Department plan to roll back a pro-worker regulation, the June 9 announcement that DOL would weaken its recent “persuader rule.”

That rule, unveiled in March 2016, would force “persuaders” – more-commonly known as union-busters – to disclose in more detail and more often how much they spend and which companies they work for.

Unions and their allies lobbied the Obama administration DOL to tighten the “persuader rule” to make it like the detailed disclosures DOL now requires from unions. Court rulings weakened it so much that the “persuaders” could literally get away with just about anything.

In so many words, persuaders did not have to disclose their actions and spending to DOL, unless they had “direct contact” with workers, not when they “advise” bosses on how to stop organizing drives.  Under Obama, DOL agreed to extend disclosure to cover “indirect contact” through employers, eliminating  “the advice exemption” from persuaders’ reports.

That would have tightened up the persuader rule – and forced the union busters to reveal their activities. But just after last November’s election, a GOP-named federal judge in rural Texas, at the behest of the right wing National Federation of Independent Business, stopped the persuader rule change in its tracks with a nationwide injunction.

Now, under Republican President Donald Trump, DOL’s June 12 Federal Register notice says it wants to stop the Obama DOL change itself. The move against the persuader rule is the latest Trump rollback of a Labor Department pro-worker rule. The Teamsters and the federation are protesting the rollback. Deadline for comments is August 11.

“The ‘persuader rule’ called for outside consultants and attorneys hired by companies to crack down on union activities to be put on equal footing as employers who must disclose such activities under” Landrum-Griffin, said Teamsters President James Hoffa.

“It also increased parity with unions, which are already required to file detailed financial disclosure forms each and every year that includes receipts and expenditures. The decision to rescind this rulemaking is greatly disappointing.

“At a time when income inequality is increasingly pervasive in this country, workers need the DOL to expand its worker protection policies and employer compliance policies. The Teamsters call on the DOL to reverse its recent decision.”  

AFL-CIO spokesman Josh Goldstein called DOL’s move “another giveaway to wealthy Corporations.

“The ‘persuader rule’ means corporate CEOs can no longer hide the shady groups they hire to take away the freedoms of working people,” he added. “CEOs may not like people knowing who they’re paying to script their union-busting, but working people do.”

DOL, in its official notice, had a different take on weakening the persuader rule.

“The department believes a fair and transparent government regulatory regime must consider and balance the interests of labor relations consultants, employers, labor organizations, their members, and the public,” its Federal Register statement says.

“Any change to a labor relations consultant's recordkeeping, reporting and business practices must be based on a demonstrated and significant need for information, consideration of the burden associated with such reporting, and any increased costs associated with the change.

“The ‘advice’ exemption provides in pertinent part that ‘nothing in this section shall be construed to require any employer or other person to file a report covering the services of such person by reason of his giving or agreeing to give advice to such employer,’” DOL explained.

“Although the rule technically went into effect, its implementation was enjoined before its application became mandatory, and no reports were filed or are due under it. The department has continued to enforce the longstanding and pre-existing interpretation of the advice exemption,” it added. That’s the persuader rule with the advice exemption.

Yanking the Obama DOL’s change in the “advice exemption” will let Trump’s DOL rethink the rule, including in light of “shifting priorities and resource restraints,” the Labor Department notes.           

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Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Press Associates

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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