Gagging Employers

Jun 14, 2010

Today, the Chamber filed comments on a proposed regulation implementing an Executive Order designed to deter federal contractors from exercising their federally protected free speech rights with respect to union organizing.

The Executive Order seeks to prohibit federal contractors from using funds to persuade employees “to exercise or not to exercise, or concerning the manner of exercising, the right to organize and bargain collectively through representatives of the employees’ own choosing.” As summarized in our Comments:

Depending on the type of business the contractor conducts, the proposed restrictions will either serve as an effective gag order or will significantly chill the exercise of employer free speech. Not only will the restrictions significantly deter employers from expressing their opinion about whether or not employees should form a union, but they will also deter employers from urging that employees should exercise their rights to unionize through a government-supervised secret ballot election rather than some other inferior method that cannot be trusted to ascertain the true views of employees. The ultimate victim of these restrictions is the employee, who relies upon full information from both employers and unions in making an informed decision about whether to select an exclusive bargaining representative.

The National Labor Relations Act establishes the federal policy that encourages a robust debate on unionization. However, the Executive Order and proposed regulation seek to make it more difficult for one side—employers—to participate in that debate.

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