The effects of federal regulations on Missouri businesses were considered at a luncheon held Thursday at the Osage Centre in Cape Girardeau.
The event, co-sponsored by the National Federation of Independent Business and the Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce, was attended by about two dozen area business people.
"I'm here because I'm concerned about the future of small businesses," said Greg Heppe, of Carnell's Collision Repair in Sikeston, Mo. "If more and more of these regulations go through, a lot of small businesses are going to be hurting."
Others at the luncheon voiced similar fears.
"When are employers supposed to find time to comply with these laws?" asked Kathy Peerson, member-outreach director for the Missouri NFIB. "They don't want to break the law, but sometimes they don't know what the law is to begin with."
Ted Phlegar, the guest speaker at the luncheon, said he understood their skepticism and mistrust.
A senior counselor for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Workforce Freedom Initiative, Phlegar spoke of recent rulings by National Labor Relations Board. A five-member body based in Washington, D.C., with 32 regional offices across the country, the NLRB is charged to generally enforce labor laws. But, according to Phlegar, it has overstepped its boundaries over the last few years.
"I can't believe some of the decisions they've reached," he told the gathering.
One recent ruling of the NLRB concerned its forcing of employers to post a notice of employee rights in places such as bulletin boards in a break room. To Phlegar, that isn't itself a bad thing, but the ruling also mandated the inclusion of information that would notify employees of their rights to form and join a union.
"It would contain what amounts to an unprecedented 'how-to' guide for starting a union within the workplace," Phlegar said.
An action against the NLRB's ruling is being weighed in the U.S. Court of Appeals with a decision scheduled to be announced next year.
Another NLRB decision -- also being argued in the courts -- allows unions to organize what he called "mini-unions" within a workplace's departments.
"Imagine the confusion that would come from having an employer trying to collectively bargain with several different unions under his own roof," Phlegar said.
However, Phlegar said he supports the right of collective bargaining.
"I'm a former union member who worked in a shipyard," he said. "I know that unions have a strong place in our society. But I also support the right of a business to say 'no thank you' when it comes to some of the rules being made."
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