By Myers Reece, 4-10-12
In response to new rules coming down from the National Labor Relations Board, a group called the Coalition to Protect Montana Jobs has formed to push back against “governmental overreach that benefits Big Labor.”
The group kicked off its statewide campaign last week, with several members holding a press conference in Kalispell. In an interview afterward, Republican Sen. Bruce Tutvedt of Kalispell said the group is most concerned about three NLRB provisions pertaining to micro-unions, ambush elections and employee privacy.
In launching the campaign in Kalispell on April 5, Tutvedt was joined by fellow Kalispell Republican Sen. Verdell Jackson, Kalispell Chamber of Commerce President Joe Unterreiner and Chuck Denowh, who is serving as the coalition’s state director.
There are several bills in the U.S. House and Senate opposing the new rules and the Coalition to Protect Montana Jobs is hoping to see the regulations shot down.
“The union onslaught out of DC is especially troubling for small business,” Tutvedt said.
The coalition says one of the rules would lead to privacy invasion by forcing employers to turn over private employee information to union organizers. This information includes email addresses, phone numbers and home addresses.
Under another new rule, the coalition says unions – known as micro-unions – can be formed with as few as two workers at a company for the purposes of collective bargaining. Employers, the group states, “could find themselves going bankrupt from negotiating multiple labor contracts and managing red tape.”
The third rule of concern permits union leaders to “spring ambush elections on unsuspecting business owners with as few as seven to 10 days’ notice,” according to a release from the coalition. The group says this rule “will end any chance workers have of making an informed decision free from pressure” and “essentially eliminate the ability of employers to fairly tell their side of the story.”
“As a chamber, we’re worried about how these regulations will impact small businesses,” Unterreiner said.
Denowh said his group plans to send out questionnaires to all of the candidates running in Montana’s federal races to gather their opinions on these issues. The coalition will then publicize the results of the questionnaires.
“This is what the Obama administration is doing to strengthen unions,” Denowh said. “We’re trying to educate Montanans about what’s happening.”
In literature provided by the coalition, Montana Chamber of Commerce President Webb Brown and Montana Building Industry Association Executive Director Dustin Stewart are critical of the regulations. Brown worries about “an unfair playing field,” while Stewart says the trend in Washington DC is to “hand over more power to Big Labor.”
“Fairness in the workplace means promoting employee rights, but also protecting those of the small business owner as well,” Stewart said. “Fostering an open and collaborative relationship between workers and employers boosts productivity and creates new jobs.”
Tutvedt said union-friendly rules enacted under Obama are an example of “political payback.”
“These new rulings that we’re seeing established by President Obama’s National Labor Relations Board,” Tutvedt said in a release, “are aimed squarely at the small businesses that employ the vast majority of Montanans – and we can’t just sit idly by and let them continue to push their corrupt agenda at the expense of Montana’s employees and small business owners.”
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