AFL-CIO Urges Senate Democrats to Reject Challenge on Union Vote

The AFL-CIO, the largest U.S. labor federation, is urging Democratic senators to reject a Republican effort aimed at killing a rule that regulators say will lead to speedier worker elections to form a union.

The labor group opposes the proposal by Senator Mike Enzi of Wyoming, challenging a National Labor Relations Board rule to cut the time between the workers’ request to form a union and the balloting. The rule is set to take effect April 30. The union said lawmakers may vote as soon as next week on Enzi’s resolution to disapprove the labor board standard.

“The new NLRB rule makes modest, sensible changes to bring balance to the election process,” William Samuel, director of the AFL-CIO government affairs department, wrote to senators this week. “A vote against the resolution will ensure that the rights of working people to achieve economic security are protected.”

Republicans and business groups such as the Washington-based National Association of Manufacturers have said the labor board has created “ambush elections.” Enzi is joined by 43 of 47 Senate Republicans in opposing the labor board regulation.

“This rule will make a fair system less fair for one side, and is being rushed over tremendous objections,” Enzi said in a February statement. Enzi proposed his resolution under the Congressional Review Act that lets Congress disapprove agency actions after they are issued.

House, Obama Action

The Enzi proposal needs to pass the Democrat-controlled Senate and the Republican-led House before it can be sent to President Barack Obama for his signature. Obama appointed a majority of the NLRB’s members.

Representatives for Senator Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat and the Senate majority leader, didn’t immediately respond to questions on scheduling a vote on Enzi’s resolution.

Senators can request a vote on a federal rule within 60 days of agency action, or notification to Congress.

Business groups such as the U.S. Chamber said the new rule would deny managers the time needed to discuss union membership with their employees before voting begins.

Reducing the time for elections increases the chances a union’s supporters prevail. Unions win 87 percent of elections held 11 to 15 days after a request, a rate that falls to 58 percent when the vote takes place after 36 to 40 days, according to a February report compiled by Bloomberg Government.

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