House Passes Measure to Block NLRB Rules

Posted March 27, 2015 at 1:54 pm

The U.S. House of Representatives recently voted 232-186 on a Congressional Review Act resolution (S.J. Res. 8) to disapprove National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) changes in representative case procedures that are scheduled to go into effect April 14.

The Senate previously passed the resolution of disapproval in a 53-46 vote.

The White House Office of Management and Budget issued a statement of administration policy March 3, saying President Barack Obama's senior advisers will recommend that he veto the measure if it passed both chambers of Congress.

The Senate and House votes disapproving the NLRB rulemaking action fell well short of two-thirds in both chambers, so a veto override is considered unlikely.

The NLRB adopted the changes in December on a 3-2 vote. The new rules would, among other things, limit the preelection litigation of some voter eligibility and unit inclusion issues and would adopt other measures the board has identified as needed for “modernizing” and “streamlining” representation case procedures, including a requirement that employers release workers' personal e-mail addresses and telephone numbers prior to secret-ballot representation elections conducted by the NLRB.

After the board gave final approval to the rules, Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate invoked the Congressional Review Act, a key issue during TRSA’s Legislative Conference.

In accordance with the CRA, the resolution states that “Congress disapproves the rule submitted by the National Labor Relations Board relating to representation case procedures and such rule shall have no force or effect.”

Under the Congressional Review Act, Congress can block a regulation from taking effect if a resolution of disapproval is passed by a majority vote in each chamber. If Congress passes the resolution, it goes to the president, who may veto it. Congress can override a veto of a resolution with a two-thirds vote in both houses.

Rep. John Kline (R-MN), chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, sponsored the resolution in the House.

In a floor debate preceding the House vote, Kline urged legislators to join the Senate in disapproving the NLRB rules. Kline charged the new “draconian” rules would rush elections and would make it harder for employers and employees to discuss and consider the important question of whether workers should choose union representation.

Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MN) supported the resolution, arguing that the NLRB rulemaking action was a “solution to a problem that does not exist.” The board's current procedures allow employers and employees a reasonable interval before balloting on union representation, Walberg said, but speeding union representation elections “cripples the right of workers” to make an informed decision.

Business groups have filed two lawsuits challenging the NLRB rule changes.

The TRSA is one among other business groups that have filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Several Texas groups filed a second challenge in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas.

Neither court has scheduled a hearing or announced whether any rulings in either lawsuit will be issued before April 14.

The NLRB is training agency employees in preparation for implementing the rule changes, and plans a public information and outreach effort leading up to the implementation of the new procedures.