DOL Rule on Persuader Disclosure Increases Transparency for Workers

Earlier in the week, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) unveiled its much-anticipated persuader rule. The “persuader rule” requires disclosure of any consultant hired by an employer to help persuade workers not to form a Union or not to support a Union’s collective bargaining position.

In illustrating the rule’s necessity, the DOL explained that in about 75% of organizing campaigns, employers hire third-party consultants, or “persuaders,” who deliver anti-union messages to workers. Workers often do not know when employers pay such persuaders to influence their decisions, or who it is that is trying to sway them about their labor rights.
Disclosure of such consultants is already required by the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (“LMRDA”), but the DOL argues that previous administrations allowed a massive loophole that exempted consultants with no direct contact with employees. To date, these persuaders could coach supervisors on how to influence workers, or give the employer anti-union written materials, but neither their identities nor their fees would be disclosed because they were not interacting with employees directly. The new rule would require disclosure in government filings of any consultant hired for this purpose, plus disclosure of the fees involved.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez opined that the new rule “… will allow workers to know whether the messages they’re hearing are coming directly from their employer or from a paid, third-party consultant. Full disclosure of persuader agreements gives workers the information they need to make informed choices about how they pursue their rights to organize and bargain collectively. As in all elections, more information means better decisions.”

Who or what constitutes a persuader under this new rule, and what information will now be publicly reported, is sure to be of great interest to labor. The rule was published on March 24, 2016 and will apply to agreements made after July 1.
For more information, contact your labor law counsel.

By Lisl Soto | March 25, 2016

Legal Developments