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Labor Dept. drops unionization bombshell

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Restaurateurs and other employers who hire a consultant to advise them during a union-organizing campaign will be required under a new U.S. Department of Labor rule to reveal what the hired third parties recommend.

The new disclosure requirement extends to communications between the employer and the consultant, meaning the strategies and tactics for staying union-free have to be made available to labor organizers.

In airing the so-called “persuader rule” on Wednesday, Labor argued that the new requirement is comparable to a current mandate that unions reveal their expenditures for a unionization drive.

“Workers should know who is behind an anti-union message,” U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez said in a statement. “This 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.”

Restaurant companies routinely turn to consultants for help during union-organizing efforts because the experience is alien to most. They typically contend with union representatives with deep experience in organizing. 

“The DOL has once again hit businesses and employers with a burdensome rule that places them at a disadvantage when dealing with organized labor,” Robert Cresanti, CEO of the International Franchise Association, said in a communication to members. “The rule will undoubtedly have a chilling effect on franchise companies receiving labor law advice from outside counsel and effectively deters businesses away from seeking sound legal advice.”

The new rule takes effect July 1, Labor said.

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