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June 29, 2015

U.S. House And Senate Appropriations Committees Pass Bills To Defund NLRB, OSHA Actions

The fiscal year 2016 federal appropriations process is well under way on Capitol Hill and, as Connecting the Dots noted last week, Republican lawmakers want to use the annual spending bills to block some of the Obama administration’s most burdensome and costly labor and employment regulations. To that end, last week the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee each approved versions of the FY 2016 Labor-Health and Human Services (HHS) spending bill that include provisions to prohibit funds from being used to: 

  • Carry out the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) ambush elections rule, which took effect earlier this year;
  • Implement the NLRB’s micro union ruling;
  • Change the NLRB’s definition of joint employer; and
  • Implement the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) decision to allow union representatives to accompany OSHA inspectors to non-unionized facilities. (The provision is included in the House bill only.)

MSCI supports these provisions and will continue to advocate for them. It is likely that the Labor-HHS spending bill will be rolled into a larger omnibus spending bill to be considered by Congress later this fall. If these provisions survive that process, the White House will likely recommend a veto of that bill. 

As Connecting the Dots also noted earlier this month, the NLRB’s ambush elections rule already has significantly impacted the amount of time businesses have to prepare for union elections. Last week, labor union leaders acknowledged as much. One labor official in Pennsylvania acknowledged his association was granted a hearing within a week. Read more about unions’ support for this rule here

This week, the U.S. Labor Department is expected to issue another costly regulation. This one would increase the salary threshold for workers eligible for overtime. The current limit is $23,660 annually, but DOL is expected to raise that threshold to somewhere between $45,000 and $52,000. This rule will significantly increase the cost of doing business, especially for retailers, and could result in reduced employee hours and benefits, or higher consumer costs.