Listen Live
Listen Live

On Air Now

Brushwood Media Network
Brushwood Media Network

Businesses blast new Biden rule allowing union reps to inspect job sites


Business groups are pushing back against a new Biden administration rule that would allow third-parties, including union representatives, to accompany federal inspectors of job sites.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued the final rule earlier this year, but critics say the rule goes beyond safety needs and panders to unions and their recruitment efforts. The rule would apply even to job sites where workers have not unionized.

The National Federation of Independent Businesses, along with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups, are helping lead the charge against the new “walkaround” rule, which takes effect May 31 of this year.

“Small businesses want to create a safe work environment for their employees, and they understand the necessity of reasonable mandates and inspections to this end,” Beth Milito, executive director of NFIB’s Small Business Legal Center, said in a statement. “But the final rule issued by OSHA goes beyond ‘reasonable’. This rule will allow unlimited third-party individuals to initiate and then join an inspection of a private workplace under the guise of representing the employees. Not only does this violate a small business owner’s private property rights, it will not advance worker safety. It only makes small businesses susceptible to harassment from competitors, union representatives, and other parties intending to cause harm.”

President Joe Biden has called himself the most pro-union president in history and has taken several actions to bolster union membership and recruiting efforts, often at taxpayer expense.

Those actions have been welcomed by unions and criticized by others, who point out that taxpayers fund these efforts to benefit unions, who mostly give political donations to Democrats.

OSHA has argued that the rule is consistent with past OSHA practices and will help make inspections more thorough.

“The rule is in part a response to a 2017 court decision ruling that the agency’s existing regulation, 29 CFR 1903.8(c), only permitted employees of the employer to be authorized as representatives,” the agency said in a news release earlier this year. “However, the court acknowledged that the OSH Act does not limit who can serve as an employee representative and that OSHA’s historic practice was a “persuasive and valid construction” of the OSH Act. Today’s final rule is the culmination of notice and comment rulemaking that clarifies OSHA’s inspection regulation and aligns with OSHA’s longstanding construction of the act.”

A coalition of business groups filed a lawsuit challenging the rule on Tuesday. The legal filing argues that the rule violates business owners private property rights and asked that its enforcement be delayed or vacated altogether.

“OSHA upended over 50 years of precedent by dramatically expanding the type of third parties allowed to accompany inspectors during walkarounds,” the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said in its announcement of the lawsuit.

The chamber also pointed to a news release where the American Federation of Government Employees suggested that the new rule would help unions organize in new territories.

“OSHA’s new walkaround rule is the Administration’s latest regulation to take a ‘whole-of-government’ approach to promoting unionization at all costs,” Marc Freedman, vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Employment Policy Division, said in a statement. “OSHA claims this rule is about workplace safety, but as some union organizers have publicly admitted, this rule is about gaining access to nonunionized workplaces to advance their organizing campaigns.”