With the demise of Build Back Better in Congress, the Senate has an opportunity to draft a better reconciliation bill.I’d like to recommend one improvement to the next bill: Leave out the provision that transforms the National Labor Relations Act into a punitive law rather than a remedial law for the first time in its 86-year history.The provision grants the National Labor Relations Board the authority to impose civil penalties against small and midsized employers for vaguely defined unfair labor practices. The fines of up to $100,000 per violation would be applicable only to employers, not unions, and could even be levied against individual officers and directors. Of course, the officers and directors of most Maine small businesses are the owners themselves and their family members.The phrase “unfair labor practices” sounds problematic. But they could be as benign as accidentally misplacing union election posters at a plant or casually discussing an upcoming union election with work colleagues.This provision could be disastrous for small employers who don’t have labor lawyers on retainer to help them navigate the intricacies of the nation’s complex labor laws.During my time in the Maine Legislature, I have learned that negotiation and compromise often result in better legislation for everyone. I hope that’s the case here.

When Congress returns from its holiday recess, I encourage Sen. Angus King to lead the fight to ensure this anti-employer provision is left out of the new reconciliation package.

Rep. Joshua Morris, Turner

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