The Endless Election vs. the Quickie-Election

Iowa voters listen as Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks while campaigning at the IAFF Local 809 Union Hall August 16, 2015 in Clinton, Iowa. Sanders was scheduled for a full day of campaigning in eastern Iowa today.
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Incredibly, the presidential election is still over a year away. Though it sure doesn’t feel that way as the primary season has dominated headlines over the entire summer.

While presidential campaigns keep getting longer, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has made union election campaigns shorter. Known as the “quickie-election rule,” the NLRB has reduced the length of union election campaigns from 38 days to as few as 11 or 12 days.

Though the outcomes of presidential elections often have a direct impact on peoples’ lives, it’s difficult to overstate the impact that outcomes of unionization elections have on employees’ day-to-day lives and month-to-month paychecks.

For instance, lower paychecks thanks to mandatory union dues. (Not to mention those dues may be used for union activities you disagree with, or spent on politicians you don’t support.) And unlike with presidents, when unions are elected, they’re often there for life. In other words, whether or not to vote for unionization is a decision not to be taken lightly and one that certainly needs longer than just two weeks to consider.

Implemented in April, the NLRB’s rule change is already having its intended outcome. According to statistics released this summer, the average time between a petition and election fell to 23 days from 38 days since the rule came into effect. This means that employees have had two fewer weeks to consider the pros and cons of unionization before voting on it.

And, as expected, the number of unionization petitions as well as the union win rate have increased as well.

Given that the overwhelming majority of American employees are choosing not to join a union (only 6.6 percent of the private workforce is unionized), it’s understandable why a labor-friendly NLRB would work to try to reverse this trend.

But limiting the length of a unionization election campaign is a violation of employee freedoms and American ideals – just as if some group of bureaucrats tried to artificially limit the length of the presidential election campaign. Even if some of us may wish it were a little shorter.

Alfredo Ortiz is President and CEO of Job Creators Network