BEWARE EMPLOYERS: Overhauled union-election rules may be near

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has proposed amendments to its existing rules and regulations that will vastly change the way union-elections are conducted. The NLRB spin on these amendments is that they will “reduce unnecessary litigation, streamline pre- and post-election procedures, and facilitate the use of electronic communications and document filing.”

Is this a good thing or a bad thing for employers? I’ll detail the proposed changes, after the jump.

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What the new rules would do.

According to a press release from the NLRB, the new rules would create eight changes to the election process:

  1. Allow for electronic filing of election petitions and other documents.
  2. Ensure that employees, employers and unions receive and exchange timely information they need to understand and participate in the representation case process.
  3. Standardize timeframes for parties to resolve or litigate issues before and after elections.
  4. Require parties to identify issues and describe evidence soon after an election petition is filed to facilitate resolution and eliminate unnecessary litigation.
  5. Defer litigation of most voter eligibility issues until after the election.
  6. Require employers to provide a final voter list in electronic form soon after the scheduling of an election, including voters’ telephone numbers and email addresses when available.
  7. Consolidate all election-related appeals to the Board into a single post-election appeals process and thereby eliminate delay in holding elections currently attributable to the possibility of pre-election appeals.
  8. Make Board review of post-election decisions discretionary rather than mandatory.

You can find even more details on the proposed amendments here.

One NLRB member is not happy with the proposed amendments.

Board Member Brian Hayes dissented from the proposed rulemaking. He criticizes the Board majority’s as just kowtowing to organized labor, concerned that the intent to impose new election rules “tilts heavily against employers’ rights to engage in legitimate free speech and to petition the government for redress.”

And, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, says Member Hayes:

The Board and General Counsel are consistently meeting their publicly-stated performance goals under the current representation election process, providing an expeditious and fair resolution to parties in the vast majority of cases, less than 10 percent of which involve contested preelection issues.

Member Hayes also expressed concern that the majority was trying to railroad through the rule changes without providing adequate time for review and comment. He noted that the “last substantive rulemaking effort of comparable scale” was carefully reviewed and considered for over two years before it was passed.

“In truth,” Hayes added, “the ‘problem’ which my colleagues seek to address through these rules revisions is not that the representation election process generally takes too long. It is that unions are not winning more elections.”

Your voice can still be heard.

Public comments are invited on all aspects of the proposed rules and should be submitted within 60 days of publication in the Federal Register, either electronically to, or by mail or hand-delivery to Lester Heltzer, Executive Secretary, NLRB, 1099 14th Street NW, Washington DC 20570.

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