The U.S. Dept. of Labor has released a controversial final rule that will require employers to report when they discuss union-related issues with a third-party consultant.

The regulation, published on March 24 in the Federal Register, interprets the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act's Section 203 as requiring labor organizations, consultants and employers to file reports and disclose expenditures on labor-management activities.

The department says the rule is necessary to prevent “abuses and improper practices” by unions and employers alike. But construction industry groups say the regulation is targeted at employers and will squelch their ability to seek advice from attorneys, consultants and trade associations.

Kristen Swearingen, vice president of legislative and political affairs at the Associated Builders and Contractors, says the regulation, often called the “persuader” rule, will “improperly narrow the long-standing ‘advice’ exemption used by employers, greatly limiting businesses’ ability to obtain labor relations advice from attorneys, consultants and trade associations.”

An ABC spokesman says ABC plans to challenge the regulation in court.

Labor union groups say that, under current law, the exemption enables workers to have a better understanding of whether their employer is hiring third-party consultants and lawyers to write anti-union speeches, prepare anti-union videos and write anti-union fliers meant to dissuade employees from forming a union. “These tactics are all too common in the union-busting industry,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a statement.

Michael Hayes, director of DOL’s office of labor-management standards, says the rule “is about disclosure, and more disclosure here means more peaceful and stable labor-management relations. With workers having a better understanding of the true source of persuader communications, worker-supervisor and other workplace relationship are likely to proceed more smoothly, no matter what is decided regarding union representation.”

The rule will apply to all arrangements, agreements and payments made on or after July 1, 2016.