Chamber members updated on labor regulations

GREENVILLE – Referring to 2015 as “The Year of Living Dangerously,” Darke County Chamber of Commerce Keynote Speaker, Theodore C. Phlegar, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told members and guests at the Chamber’s Annual Breakfast Meeting May 8 federal labor and employment policy presents a significant challenge to employers.

“There are some very serious attacks coming from NLRB (National Labor Relations Board),” he said. One example he gave was what he referred to as ambush elections, where the timeframe for a union election is reduced from about 38 days to as few as 10. “This reduces the ability of workers to get balanced information.” He added employers are also required to provide personal worker information, such as home addresses, phone numbers and e-mail accounts.

Another NLRB mandate allows workers to use employer-funded and owned e-mail systems to engage in union organizing campaigns. “This agency has taken away your right to manage your own property,” Phlegar said.

Phlegar noted union membership in the workplace has dropped from 29.6 percent in 1970 to 11.3 percent in 2013, adding NLRB wants to reverse that. “Their approach is one-sided,” he told Chamber members. “Anything needing to be resolved between labor and employer, the union wins two times out of three,” he said.

Other actions Phlegar discussed was NLRB allowing labor unions to gerrymander small bargaining units to penetrate workplaces, ‘worker centers’ that can avoid federal labor law, social media pitfalls, and holding businesses liable for workers they don’t actually employ. The example he gave was requiring McDonald’s to come to the bargaining table in labor disputes with its franchisees.

Noting franchises are actually owned by private employers, he added, “Imagine what would happen if that were to be expanded to include suppliers, or if IRS and HHS were to adopt that definition? That will kill the franchise model,” he said.

Phlegar said NLRB acts like a legislative body that is not transparent or responsible. “They don’t let you know what’s going on,” he added. He told the business owners and leaders they have had some victories, but everyone must stay involved. Stay in contact with your representatives…

“They’ll ‘listen’ to me,” Phlegar said. “But they’ll ‘hear’ you!”

Darke County Chamber of Commerce President Sharon Deschambeau noted labor laws and regulations have a significant impact on the national and local economy. “Attorney Ted Phlegar is an advocate for free enterprise and works tirelessly to preserve democracy in the American workplace,” she said. She added the Chamber is appreciative he was able to brief business owners, managers and community leaders on these issues.

Darke County Chamber Board of Directors Chair Matt Aultman provided the membership with an update on Chamber activities, including the Agricultural Committee, Ambassadors, Human Resources Council, Safety Council and the Legislative Committee…

“For the third year in a row, we received one of two awards given by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce,” he said. “This year our award is for the ‘2015 Best Advocacy Campaign’ for efforts and commitment to an advocacy campaign focused on drugs in the workplace and in Darke County.”

This year’s Event Sponsor was Walls Brothers Asphalt; Gold Sponsors were CenturyLink and The Andersons.

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