Last April, then-Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen told lawmakers a controversial bill restricting workplace communications between employers and employees would likely be struck down in court.
Jepsen's written opinion on the so-called captive audience bill helped doom it in the 2018 General Assembly session.
It was the second time since 2011 that he warned lawmakers the National Labor Relations Act has exclusive authority over law governing relations between unions and private sector employees.
Despite those warnings that federal law appears to preempt state restrictions on workplace discussions, the legislature's Labor and Public Employees Committee resurrected the bill this year.
Although it's a different year and a new administration, the latest bill—SB 64—again may not withstand legal challenges, CBIA's Eric Gjede told the committee March 5.
"States are precluded from governing any area of law covered by the NLRA, which includes restricting employers from communicating freely with their employees," Gjede said.
The bill distracts from the most important issue facing Connecticut—the urgent need to spur business investment and job creation.
He said the bill:
- Curtails discussions with employees about legislation or regulation that could impact their jobs
- Restricts workplace communications about issues vital to jobs, wages, and benefits at a time when many companies are forced to make difficult choices due to Connecticut's slow economic recovery
- Inhibits an employer's ability to give their views on the impact collective bargaining would have on the business
- Hinders corporate charitable, community, and social activities that benefit society at large
Gjede urged committee members to take no action on the proposal and reminded them that businesses "desperately want lawmakers to focus their energies on the fiscal issues facing the state so that businesses gain confidence of knowing we are on a sustainable path forward."
"This proposal does not achieve that goal," he said.
"Instead, the bill distracts from the most important issue facing Connecticut—the urgent need to spur business investment and job creation."