You can call HB 5460 the captive audience bill. You can call it a gag order on employers. A former Clinton Administration labor attorney says the measure is wide open for legal challenges.
Charles Cohen, a Clinton appointee to the National Labor Relations Board who served from 1994 to 1996, believes the bill "ignores decades of federal law on employer free speech rights."
"This legislation runs afoul of federal labor law and is preempted by the National Labor Relations Act," Cohen wrote in a four-page legal opinion.
"If Connecticut were to enact this legislation, Connecticut would join the ranks of a small minority of states aggressively trying to regulate matters governed exclusively by the NLRA.
“A legal challenge from the business community, and potentially the NLRB itself, would likely follow the enactment of House Bill No. 5460, with unnecessary financial and public relations expense to the State.”
Cohen, now senior counsel with the Philadelphia law firm Morgan, Lewis, and Bockius, said that the state "has little to gain, and much to lose, by joining the ranks of the small minority of states seeking to battle the federal government over its regulation of labor relations matters."
"Connecticut's proposed law would impermissibly turn back the clock and resurrect the pre-1947 rule on mandatory employer meetings."
CBIA's Joe Brennan said CBIA and its members look at the captive audience legislation as “the straw that broke the camel’s back,” following Senate approval of paid sick leave (SB 913) and the budget's record tax hikes.
The captive audience bill passed the House 78 to 65 on May 11 after an 11-hour debate and now awaits action by the Senate.
CBIA members are urged to contact their state Senators immediately and urge them to reject HB 5460 as too costly for Connecticut.