Categories
Press Releases

Alexander, Roe Join Effort to Halt NLRB ‘Ambush Election’ Rule

Press release from U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.; February 9, 2015:

Senate, House Leaders Introduce Resolution to Stop NLRB Ambush Election Rule; Author joint resolution of Congress to halt rule through the Congressional Review Act

WASHINGTON, Feb. 9 –  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio), Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.) and Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) today took the first step in stopping the National Labor Relations Board from implementing its “ambush election” rule, which was finalized in December to shorten the length of time in which a labor union certification election is held—currently a median 38 days—to as little as 11 days.

The Republican members authored a joint resolution of Congress that would halt implementation of the rule through the Congressional Review Act.

“This Administration’s appointees on the National Labor Relations Board released their so-called ‘ambush’ rule back in December,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “It’s designed with one purpose in mind — to fatten the wallets of powerful political bosses by threatening the rights of middle-class workers to make informed decisions of their own. Republicans think an employee’s personal information is none of the business of powerful political bosses. But the Administration’s ‘ambush’ rule would allow these bosses to access things like personal email addresses and cell numbers — without permission from the employee.”

“The National Labor Relations Board is supposed to be a neutral arbiter of federal labor law,” said Speaker of the House John Boehner. “Yet under the president’s watch, it has pursued a culture of union favoritism that is detrimental to America’s workers and job creators. The recent ambush election rule will deny workers their right to make fully informed decisions in union elections. Congress will not stand idly by and let that happen.”

“This rule allows a union to force an election before an employee has a chance to figure out what is going on,” said Alexander, chairman of the Senate labor committee. “It also jeopardizes employees’ privacy by requiring employees to turn over personal information including email addresses, phone numbers, shift hours and locations to union organizers.”

“The National Labor Relations Board has lost its way. Instead of fairly enforcing the National Labor Relations Act, the board has made up a new rule out of thin air that only helps political organizations and special interests,” said Enzi, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. “This ‘ambush election’ rule is an example. I’m pleased to join with my colleagues in this effort to make sure employees can have the information and time they need to make informed decisions.”

“The Obama labor board is moving forward with a radical plan that will stifle employer free speech, cripple worker free choice, and jeopardize the privacy of workers and their families,” said Kline, chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. “Congress must use every available tool to stop this flawed regulatory scheme. I am pleased to join my House and Senate colleagues in authoring this resolution, and hope Congress will send it to the president as soon as possible.”

“It is prudent that Congress protect employees from this activist NLRB,” said Roe, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions. “For far too long, we’ve seen this out-of-control board violate the rights of American workers and employers by regulatory overreach, and I am proud to introduce this resolution with my colleagues.”

Under the Congressional Review Act, the House and Senate vote on a joint resolution of disapproval to stop, with the full force of law, a federal agency from implementing a rule or regulation or issuing a substantially similar regulation without congressional authorization. A resolution of disapproval only needs a simple majority to pass and cannot be filibustered or amended.

In December, the NLRB released its final rule to authorize “ambush elections,” in an attempt to speed up union elections, which could take place in as few as 11 days. The rule gives employers no time to communicate with their employees before a union election and undermines the ability of workers to make an informed decision. In addition, it will compromise worker privacy by forcing employers to provide employees’ personal email addresses, work schedules, personal cell phone numbers, and other personal information to union organizers without employees’ consent. The rule only gives employers seven days to find legal counsel and prepare for a pre-election hearing before an NLRB regional officer. During those seven days, employers will have to identify every legal concern or forfeit the ability to raise the concern at all.  The ambush election rule will go into effect April 14, 2015.

Categories
Press Releases

Alexander, McConnell File National Labor Relations Board Reform Bill

Press release from U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.; January 28, 2015:

‘NLRB Reform Act’ Will Turn Board from Advocate into Umpire

Washington, D.C., January 28 – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate labor committee, today introduced the NLRB Reform Act to turn the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) from an advocate to an umpire and keep the general counsel from operating as an activist for one side or the other.

McConnell said: “The NLRB’s politically motivated decisions and controversial regulations threaten the jobs of hardworking Americans who just want to provide for their families.  So it’s time to restore balance and bipartisanship. The NLRB Reform Act  would help turn the board’s focus from ideological crusades that catch workers in the crossfire to the kind of common-sense, bipartisan solutions workers deserve.”

Alexander said: “This legislation will turn the National Labor Relations Board from a partisan advocate to the neutral umpire it ought to be, restoring stability to our nation’s workplaces. It would also rein in the freewheeling general counsel by allowing businesses and unions to challenge complaints in federal court, and it would encourage timely decisions by saying either party to a case may appeal to the court of appeals if the board fails to act within a year.”

The NLRB Reform Act addresses three problems with the board—its partisanship, its activist general counsel, and its slow decision-making—with three solutions. The legislation will:

  • End partisan advocacy: To put an end to the partisanship, this legislation would increase the number of board members from five to six, requiring an even split between Republicans and Democrats. All decisions would require the agreement of four board members, resulting in consensus from both sides. The five-year terms of the board members would be synched up over time so that a Republican and Democrat seat are up for nomination at the same time.
  • Rein in the general counsel: The board’s most recent general counsels have stretched federal labor law to its limits—and sometimes beyond. With this bill, parties will have 30 days to seek review of a general counsel’s complaint in federal district court and will have new discovery rights allowing them to obtain memoranda and other documents relevant to the complaint within 10 days.
  • Encourage timely decision-making:  The NLRB is taking too long to resolve cases. Under the NLRB Reform Act, either party in a case before the board may appeal to a Federal Court of Appeals if the board fails to reach a decision in their case within one year. To further incentivize speedy decision-making, funding for the entire NLRB would be reduced by 20 percent if the board is not able to decide 90 percent of its cases within one year over the first two-year period post-reform.
Categories
Press Releases

Bill Introduced in U.S. Senate to Roll Back Federal Hemp Restrictions

Press release from U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.; January 8, 2015:

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., today introduced legislation that would allow American farmers to grow and profit from industrial hemp.

The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015 would remove federal restrictions on the domestic cultivation of industrial hemp. The bill would remove hemp from the Schedule I controlled substance list under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, and would define it as a non-drug so long as it contained less than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Oregon and Kentucky are among twenty states that have already defined industrial hemp as distinct from marijuana and removed barriers to production. However, under current federal law, farmers in states that allow industrial hemp research and pilot programs must still seek a waiver from the Drug Enforcement Administration or risk raids and seizures by federal agents.

The U.S. is the world’s largest consumer of hemp, but it remains the only major industrialized country that bans farming the product.

“The U.S. ban on hemp farming is an outrageous restriction on free enterprise and does nothing but hurt economic growth and job creation,” Wyden said. “Our bipartisan, commonsense bill is pro-environment, pro-business, and pro-farmer. Congress must act to empower farmers and boost economic activity across the country. As I’ve always said, if you can buy it in Oregon, you should be able to grow it in Oregon.”

“My vision for the farmers and manufacturers of Kentucky is to see us start growing hemp, creating jobs and leading the nation in this industry again,” Paul said. “Allowing farmers throughout our nation to cultivate industrial hemp and benefit from its many uses will boost our economy and bring much-needed jobs to the agriculture industry.”

“Industrial hemp has the potential to fuel jobs and research here in Oregon, and the federal government shouldn’t be standing in the way,” Merkley said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., also cosponsored the bill.

The bill text is available here.

Categories
NewsTracker Transparency and Elections

Ball, Alexander Trying to Outdistance Each Other from Obama

Depending on who you talk to, both candidates for Tennessee’s U.S. Senate seat up for grabs this year have a lot in common with Barack Obama.

Earlier this week the Tennessee Republican Party pitched out a press release painting a vote for Gordon Ball, the Democratic Party’s candidate for Senate, as a vote in favor of Obama’s “agenda,” which includes Obamacare, higher taxes, less restrictions on abortion, unions and gun control.

“Like many Democrats in Tennessee—and every personal injury lawyer I’ve come across—Ball will try to cloak himself with conservative rhetoric in order to win,” TNGOP Chairman Chris Devaney said in a news release. “But the reality is: He’ll be one more vote for Barack Obama’s agenda.”

In Devaney’s telling, Tennesseans face a straightforward choice. They can send Alexander back to Washington so he can “defend us from President Obama,” or they can put the bat in the hands of Ball, who would be “Obama’s lapdog in the Senate.”

Ball thinks Team Lamar is overplaying just how dependably Alexander can be relied upon to take on the president. He launched the You-Love-Obama accusation right back at the third-term-seeking Beltway insider.

It’s Lamar Alexander who’s earned a reputation as one of the White House’s pet senators, having “voted with President Barack Obama 62 percent of the time,” a press release from the Ball camp indicated Tuesday.

Ball noted that’d he’d be starting with a clean slate if elected. “I have voted with (the president) 0 percent of the time,” he said. And he fashions himself as more middle-of-the-road than left-of-center. Ball compared his political leanings to those of Ned McWherter and Phil Bredesen.

Ball’s strategy of distancing himself from a president with whom he shares party affiliation looks to resemble that of Alison Lundergan Grimes of Kentucky, another upstart Southern Democrat looking to upset a GOP fixture on the national political scene. Grimes is running to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

In a recent TV ad featuring her shooting clay pigeons, Grimes also took aim at McConnell’s loyalty to University of Kentucky basketball and his knowledge of basic firearms safety. She also peppered the president. “I disagree with him on guns, coal and the EPA,” she said.

Grimes was the keynote speaker this summer at the Tennessee Democratic Party’s Jackson Day Dinner. Neither Ball, nor his opponent in the Democratic primary, Terry Adams, spoke at that event.

Ball and Alexander will get a chance to go mano a mano to hash out who’s more Obama-esque next month. Both have agreed to appear at an Oct. 16 state Farm Bureau candidates’ forum at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville.