Public Hearing Tuesday on Controversial Bill To Mute Employers


The State legislature’s Labor Committee will be holding a public hearing Tuesday afternoon on a controversial bill concerning meetings between business owners and employees who consider unionizing. HB 5460; An Act Concerning Captive Audience Meetings would “prohibit an employers from requiring employees to attend or participate in meetings to share information about a large number of topics, including public policy issues and labor organizing activities,” notes a press release from Sen. Joe Markley’s office.

If passed, many business oriented organizations believe this law would prohibit them from addressing employee concerns that would lead them to unionize. In other words, they would be unable to offer a counter offer or begin addressing the concerns of employees, even after such a labor union was organized. Such negotiations and communication would need to be held through other means than face to face.

Markley, who is opposed to the bill calls it “overly broad” because it would restrict a business to communicate with its employees about critical issues dealing with the operation of that business, particularly in today’s competitive world. Markley suggests this could even include legislation – such as this bill – from being discussed in the workplace.

“I will do everything I can do oppose this legislation,” says Markley, as he also requests others to help defeat the bill.

The proposal is being introduced by State Representative Bruce “Zeke” Zalaski D-Southington and State Senator Edith Prague D-Columbia. Zalaski has proposed the same bill in the past.

A public hearing on the bill is scheduled today beginning at 3 pm in the Legislative office Building, room 2E. Testimony will be accepted in person or in writing. The idea has been proposed since 2005 and usually dies after a public hearing, although in 2009 it passed a vote in the State Senate. It never got a vote in the House, however state Democrats still control that side of the legislature.

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