New group forms to protect jobs

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A newly formed coalition of state lawmakers and business groups is pushing back against rules and regulations recently enacted by the National Labor Relations Board.

The Coalition to Protect Montana Jobs was launched this week, with some of the participants holding a press conference Thursday at the Kalispell Grand Hotel.

State Sen. Bruce Tutvedt, R-Kalispell, explained that the group is focused on trying to protect small businesses and jobs from new labor rules that have “tilted in  a direction that is harmful to our job producers.”

“We’re just concerned about what we’re seeing coming out of the NLRB,” said Joe Unterreiner, president of the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce.

The coalition is concerned about three specific new provisions in labor law that was approved by the National Labor Relations Board.

One would allow unions to compel employers to turn over private employee information, such as their phone numbers or email addresses, raising concerns that employees could be harassed or intimidated by unions.

Another recent labor board decision allows organized labor to create “micro-unions” made up of as few as two workers, a change that is expected to result in “severe discord in places of work with various unions working against each other  in search of enhanced benefits with the employer stuck in the middle,” according to a coalition press release.

The board also has created conditions for what the coalition calls “ambush elections” by allowing unions to hold organizing elections with as few as seven to 10 days’ notice to employers.

“Even concerns about the integrity of the election proceedings no longer can be raised until after the vote has taken place,” the coalition release states. “That creates a situation where a collective bargaining unit can be formed before the employer even has any real chance to meaningfully address the unionization of his or her business.”

Tutvedt maintains that the rule changes are collectively aimed at small businesses, and small businesses make up most of Montana’s private sector economy.

“Unions have identified Montana as one of their battleground states,” said Chuck Denowh, one of the coalition organizers. “We want people to know what’s happening in Washington, D.C., that could affect their jobs.”

Denowh said there is legislation in Congress aimed at rolling back the NLRB rule changes, and the coalition will raise the profile of the issue during this important election year.

The coalition aims to send Montana congressional candidates a survey on the rule changes and other workplace issues, and there are plans to publicly announce the candidates responses.

More information on the coalition and its campaign can be found online at:

www.protectmtjobs.com

Reporter Jim Mann may be reached at 758-4407 or by email at jmann@dailyinterlake.com.

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