Following a June 14, 2017 subcommittee hearing, and a June 27, 2017 mark-up, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce has approved the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act of 2017 (H.R. 986), the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act (H.R. 2776), and the Employee Privacy Protection Act (H.R. 2775).  All three bills were approved by a party-line vote of 22-16.

The Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act, introduced by Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN) would amend the National Labor Relations Act to expressly clarify the exclusion of tribal employers from the Act’s definition of “employer.”  Specifically, the bill would add “any enterprise or institution owned and operated by an Indian tribe and located on its Indian lands” to the definition’s list of exclusions set forth in Section 2(2) of the Act as follows:

…the United States or any wholly owned Government corporation, or any Federal Reserve Bank, or any State or political subdivision thereof…

Rep. Rokita said of the bill:

We are leading the way to protect the sovereignty of Native American tribal governments. This bill fights for the inherent right to self-government, free from Washington’s interference, just like local governments and states.

The Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act, introduced by Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI), would amend the Act to require that in all representation (RC) elections, within 14 days of the filing of a petition, an “appropriate hearing” would be held. That hearing would be:

non-adversarial with the hearing officer charged, in collaboration with the parties, with the responsibility of identifying any relevant and material pre-election issues and thereafter making a full record thereon.

This change to the statute would restore the decades-old procedures, pre-dating the April 2015 “Quickie Election” rules, whereby the Board would seek to resolve significant legal issues likely to impact the election prior to the conduct of the election.  This bill would also require a period of at least 35 days between a petition and the conduct of an election — up from the current median, 23 days, and the prospect under the current rules of an election as soon as 13 days after the filing of a petition.

Moreover, the second half of the bill would expressly incorporate the Board’s traditional “community of interest” factors for determining the appropriate unit in a representation proceeding. This inclusion would restore the decades-old standards cast aside by Board in its 2011 Specialty Healthcare decision to facilitate micro-unit organizing.

The Employee Privacy Protection Act, introduced by Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), would for the first time memorialize the employer’s obligation to turn over a list of eligible voters and contact information in the statute itself.  But it would also restore a seven day time frame for compilation of the information and the Board as the recipient of the information. In addition, it would require that only one piece of contact information be provided for each employee, to be chosen by the employee him or herself.

The three bills will proceed now for a vote by the broader House of Representatives.  There are similar bills pending in the Senate.