Sept. 13, 2021

Provisions Would Allow NLRB to Issue Civil Penalties and Increase OSHA Fines

Summarized from Jade West, National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors

Everyone paying even the most remote attention to Congress these days knows that last week they began the extraordinary process of trying to pass another $3.5 trillion spending bill – in as little time as possible – using a reconciliation process so the Democratic-controlled House and Senate can pass it without any Republican votes.

Numerous House Committees are now “marking up” issue-specific legislation, and once those mark-ups are completed, the individual committee bills will be merged into the huge reconciliation bill that will be considered by the full House. A similar procedure will take place in the Senate (but all we have now is the House language).

It’s hard to know where to even start trying to unpack this massive piece of legislation. Perhaps we should rely on the not very GOP-friendly New York Times for a headline description from its Sept. 7 story:

From Cradle to Grave, Democrats Move to Expand Social Safety Net: The $3.5 trillion social policy bill that lawmakers begin drafting this week would touch virtually every American, at every point in life, from conception to old age.

On Sept. 8, the House Education and Labor Committee rolled out its piece of the reconciliation bill. We are still trying to figure out all the damage it would do, but notable among the provisions are:

  • The section of the so-called PRO Act that would, for the first time, allow the National Labor Relations Board to issue civil penalties in unfair labor practice cases;
  • Extending those NLRB civil penalties to officers and directors, making them personally liable for unfair labor practices;
  • A mandate that all companies with more than five employees provide auto-enroll retirement plans;
  • Increase in OSHA fines and penalties by a factor of 10 (i.e., $70,000 to $700,000); and
  • Increased penalty and fine authority for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Bloomberg describes the Labor provisions this way: The $761 billion measure, released Wednesday, is loaded with pro-worker and pro-union provisions that could pass without needing a single Republican vote – if they can overcome procedural hurdles.

You can read the Bloomberg story here