Congress sends Obama bill to kill labor board rule, defying veto threat

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Defying a veto threat by President Barack Obama, the Republican-controlled Congress voted to kill a pending National Labor Relations Board rule intended to streamline union elections.

The House on Thursday approved a bill blocking the new rule, which would reduce the time between a union's request for representation and a vote by workers on it. The rule is set to take effect in April.

Republicans say the rule allows what they call "ambush elections" that limit the ability of businesses to defeat certification elections authorizing workers to form or join a union.

Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, called the rule a "radical rewrite of labor policies that have served our nation's best interests for decades."

Kline and other Republicans said the rule arbitrarily limits the amount of time employers have to legally prepare for an election and denies workers a reasonable opportunity to make informed decisions about joining a union.

The new rule will also force employers to provide union organizers with employees' personal information, including email addresses and telephone numbers -- a provision Kline said makes it easier for "labor bosses to harass employees and their families."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called the House vote "an outright attack not just on unions but on the right to organize," which she called "a fundamental principle" of democracy.

The White House veto statement said the NLRB's "modest reforms will help simplify and streamline private sector union elections, thereby reducing delays before workers can have a free and fair vote on whether or not to form or join a union."

The rule would shorten the time between a union petition and a representation election from the current average of 38 days to as few as 11 days. Labor organizers, however, may take as long as they like building support for the union before petitioning for an election.

The Senate approved the measure blocking the NLRB rule earlier this month. The 232-186 vote in the House, along with the Senate's 53-46 vote, indicates that Republicans are short of the two-thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto.