On Wednesday, March 23, 2016, the United States Department of Labor (“DOL”) announced that it finalized its union persuader rule, requiring employers to report so-called “persuader agreements” they have made with outside consultants to help persuade workers against unionizing.
As described in our prior post, the rule interprets the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, which, in part, requires labor organizations, consultants, and employers to file reports and disclose expenditures regarding labor-management activities. Previously, employers were required to disclose that they had hired an outside consultant only if that consultant made direct contact with its employees. Under the new rule, however, employers now are required to annually report “actions, conduct or communications that are undertaken with an object, explicitly or implicitly, directly or indirectly, to affect an employee’s decisions regarding his or her representation or collective bargaining rights.
This revision is designed to increase disclosure about employers’ use of consultants for crafting and delivering messages to workers who are contemplating unionization. With these revisions, consultants, including attorneys, who do not have direct contact with employees will now have a disclosure obligation; employers and their counsel will need to carefully develop strategies to minimize that obligation. Importantly, the DOL has said that attorney-client communications should generally still remain confidential from disclosure.
The rule will be applicable to arrangements, agreements, and payments made on or after July 1, 2016. For more information about your company’s reporting responsibilities under the new rule, please contact Connell Foley’s labor and employment law attorneys.