Mid-sized businesses seeking loans under new congressional coronavirus stimulus legislation should agree not to oppose unions seeking to organize their workers.
Companies with between 500 and 10,000 employees applying for a direct loan from the Treasury Department would be required to “certify in good faith that the beneficiary will remain neutral in any organizing effort during the life of the loan.” New loans for businesses affected by the pandemic are available for up to five years under the invoice (HR 748) pending in the House and should be signed by the President
Companies would also be required to use the loan proceeds to retain at least 90% of their workforce with full pay and benefits until September 30, 2020. They would be prohibited from moving jobs to the foreigner during the term of the loan and two additional years after repayment.
The measure would significantly increase unemployment aid and similar benefits for pay-as-you-go workers, as well as tax breaks and out-of-pocket payments for businesses. A separate back-up plan follows (Public law 116-127) was enacted last week, which requires some companies to provide sick leave and paid family leave to workers affected by the pandemic.
The Senate passed the legislation in a 96-0 vote just before midnight Wednesday after days of negotiations between Republicans and Senate Democrats.
The legislation potentially gives unions a new target for future organizing campaigns and could increase membership numbers, said Wilma Liebman, a professor at Rutgers University and Democratic chair of the National Labor Relations Board under the Obama administration.
“It can impact a lot of recruiting drives,” she said.
About 6% of private sector companies are currently unionized, a near historic low.
However, what “staying neutral” includes in the legislation is not clear. Often neutrality agreements in organizing campaigns state that an employer cannot explain to workers why they might not want to unionize, organize “captive” meetings to argue against unionization or prevent union organizers from joining. ” interact with workers. Neutrality agreements also include card control provisions, which give unions the opportunity to be recognized if a majority of workers sign authorization cards.
Organizational protections under the bill may come at a time necessary for the job. The only other period when work was able to increase the percentage of Americans in unions over the past 36 years was from 2007 to 2008, when the economy was cutting jobs. In the wake of Covid-19, once again, companies are cutting jobs at an unprecedented rate. Unemployment claims soared to nearly 3.3 million last week, according to reports Thursday morning.
A representative of a trade association who spoke on condition of anonymity said the provision of the bill sets a dangerous precedent for business.
“Ultimately the impact of that language is limited in this bill, but the precedent is horrible – more eyes will be looking to see if this relates in any way to future bills.”