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NRF Calls NLRB Proposal on Union Elections ‘Backdoor Card Check’

For Immediate Release
Contact: J. Craig Shearman (202) 626-8134

NRF Calls NLRB Proposal on Union Elections ‘Backdoor Card Check’
--Chain Restaurant Division Also Cries Foul--

WASHINGTON, July 18, 2011 – The National Retail Federation and its chain restaurant division today voiced strong opposition to a National Labor Relations Board proposal to use administrative procedures to implement a number of provisions similar to the controversial Employee Free Choice Act that was defeated in Congress four years ago.

“This is nothing but backdoor card check, the same as we’ve been warning about for more than a year,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Unions weren’t able to get the Employee Free Choice Act through Congress, so they’re using administrative procedures at the NLRB to turn as much of the bill into law as possible. This misnamed bill was defeated by the people’s elected representatives in Congress. It should not be forced into law by unelected, partisan appointees.”

The NLRB today opened a two-day hearing on recently proposed regulations that would make it far easier for organized labor to win union organizing elections. Among other provisions, elections could be held as little as 10 days after a petition is filed, employers’ ability to communicate with workers about an election would be limited, new restrictions would be placed on law firms and consultants that would limit companies’ ability to receive legal counsel and other assistance, and “micro-unions” could be created allowing labor to cherry pick small units among a company’s workers to unionize.

Some of the provisions are similar to the Employee Free Choice Act, legislation that would have effectively eliminated secret ballots in union organizing elections while making a number of other changes to make it easier for unions to win the elections. EFCA received fast-track treatment after unions helped Democrats win both chamber of Congress in 2006. It passed the House less than a month after it was introduced in February 2007, and came within nine votes of clearing a key procedural hurdle that likely would have led to Senate passage that June.

Supporters were unable to advance EFCA during the 2009-2010 session of Congress but it remained a top priority for President Obama, who last year appointed former AFL-CIO and Service Employees International Union staff counsel Craig Becker to fill one of three empty slots on the five-member NLRB. Becker was placed on the board through a recess appointment after he was unable to win Senate confirmation among concerns from Republicans that he would use the administrative powers of the NLRB to implement EFCA provisions. NRF warned at the time that Becker would use his NLRB position to “bypass the role of Congress in setting national labor policy.”

NRF’s National Council of Chain Restaurants division also expressed strong concern about the NLRB’s current proposal.

“The NLRB scheme is a job-killing solution in search of a problem,” NCCR Executive Director Rob Green said. “Rather than finding ways to reward union organizers at the expense of small businesses and their employees, the NLRB should recognize that partisan politics and high unemployment don’t mix when it comes to solving our nation’s economic problems.

NRF and NCCR are leading the retail industry’s fight against the NLRB proposal because traditionally non-union industries such as retail are expected to be labor’s top priorities if the provisions are implemented. NRF helped create the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, which represents more than 500 corporate and trade associations working to defeat EFCA.

As the world’s largest retail trade association and the voice of retail worldwide, NRF’s global membership includes retailers of all sizes, formats and channels of distribution as well as chain restaurants and industry partners from the United States and more than 45 countries abroad. In the United States, NRF represents an industry that includes more than 3.6 million establishments and which directly and indirectly accounts for 42 million jobs – one in four U.S. jobs. The total U.S. GDP impact of retail is $2.5 trillion annually, and retail is a daily barometer of the health of the nation’s economy. www.nrf.com.