The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) continued its effort to reshape labor-management relations yesterday by proposing regulations that would shorten the time employers have to respond to union organizing campaigns.
The rule changes would reduce by several weeks the current average period of 40 days between the submission of union cards and the holding of a union election. The accelerated time frame would come from simplifying procedures, deferring litigation, and setting shorter deadlines for hearings and filings.
The NLRB adopted the proposed regulations by a vote of three to one, with Republican member Brian Hayes casting the lone dissenting vote.
“Make no mistake, the principal purpose for this radical manipulation of our election process is to minimize or, rather, to effectively eviscerate an employer’s legitimate opportunity to express its views about collective bargaining,’’ Hayes wrote.
AIM opposes the rule change and expects to submit formal comments to the NLRB. The board will accept comments for 60 days.
Abbreviated union elections place employers at a disadvantage because most don’t find out about a union campaign until it is well under way- frequently when the union has more than 75 percent of the potential unit employees signed up. Decades of experience in dealing with unions tells me that 10-day elections are insufficient time for a company to combat the promises, lies and misrepresentations that the union has been able to make without the opportunity for an employer to present an opposing view.
Organized labor wants shortened elections desperately since first-time union elections produce contracts only about 56 percent of the time. Unions are often unable to bargain to an agreement and lose their majority representation assumption as employees express “buyer’s remorse.”
The most disconcerting provision of the NLRB proposal would deprive employers of the ability to seek NLRB review before the union election of decisions made by regional labor administrators. The new rules would eliminate the pre-election request for review and instead postpone the review until after the ballots have been cast.
“Today, of course, the Board is routinely criticized for doing what the statute requires it to do. It is fair to predict, then, that the new proposals will be controversial. That controversy is unfortunate, but it is not a good reason for the Board to abandon its responsibilities,” NLRB Chair Wilma Liebman said in a statement.
The new rules underscore AIM’s longstanding concern that the pro-union NLRB seeks to implement on its own major portions of the Employee Free Choice Act that has so far failed to pass Congress. The Employee Free Choice Act would eliminate secret-ballot representation elections.