The National Labor Relations Board finally issued its long-in-the-works
rule speeding up union representation elections. Currently, employers can drag out the election process by withholding information from organizers and with frivolous lawsuits, time they often use to intimidate and coerce
workers away from union support.
The new rule, set to take effect on April 15, will cut waiting times between when an election is set and when it happens, put off litigation—often filed by businesses to drag out the election process—until after the election, allow election petitions to be filed electronically (hi there, 21st century!), require businesses to share additional worker contact information with union organizers, and consolidate the post-election appeals process.
These are modest changes aimed at streamlining and modernizing the process, but because anti-union bosses depend on stall tactics and making it as difficult as possible to even get to an election, the business lobby is up in arms. Of course, they claim it's a noble concern for workers who might not have enough time to make an informed decision:
“It’s clear the Administration has an aggressive agenda to uproot longstanding and effective labor policy,” said Jay Timmons, president of the National Association of Manufacturers, in a written statement. “Shortening the time frame before an election robs employees of the ability to gather the facts they need to make an important and informed decision like whether or not to join a union and denies employers adequate time to prepare.”
Mind you, before a union files a petition to hold an election, it has collected signatures from a majority of workers in the business calling for that election. Under the new, indecently fast, rule, there's a hearing eight days after the petition is filed. Then the election is scheduled. This is what business groups are describing
as "ambush" or "quickie" elections. And we know, based on long experience of how businesses react to organizing drives, that what they want more time for is threatening workers with dire consequences if they unionize. That's what bosses are afraid of losing here.
The National Association of Manufacturers and the National Retail Federation are considering lawsuits to prevent the NLRB's rule from taking effect. Given the anti-worker tilt to many courts, they have a decent shot, just as business groups were able to block a previous NLRB rule calling for employers to put up a poster explaining workers' rights under federal law.