NLRB Moves to Speed Up Union Elections

From the Associated Press:

Labor regulators are set to propose sweeping new rules Tuesday that would dramatically speed up the time frame for union elections, a move that could make it easier for struggling unions to organize new members, and cut the time businesses have to mount anti-union campaigns.

A copy of the planned rules, to be announced by the National Labor Relations Board, was obtained by The Associated Press. The proposal is expected to irritate Republicans and business groups who have complained about the board’s pro-labor actions.

Most labor elections currently take place within 45-60 days after a union gathers enough signatures to file a petition, a time many companies use to discourage workers from unionizing. The new plan could cut that time by days or even weeks–depending on the case–by simplifying procedures, deferring litigation and setting shorter deadlines for hearings and filings.

But it does not impose a specific deadline for elections, as many labor leaders had hoped for. Canada, for example, requires such elections to take place in as little as 5 to 10 days.

The plan would “better insure that employees’ votes may be recorded accurately, efficiently and speedily,” said the board’s majority, led 3-1 by Democrats.

Passage would be a victory for labor unions that have long complained about employers using procedural delays and litigation to hold up elections and intimidate workers. Some employers hire so-called “union busting” consulting firms to produce videotapes, draft talking points or create brochures to deter unionizing.

Lynn Rhinehart, general counsel of the AFL-CIO, has called current union election procedures “a very cumbersome process that gets bogged down in litigation.”

“If the board is going to try to address some of the reasons for delay in the election process, that would be a positive thing,” she said in an interview before the proposed rule was announced. “Delay in the process has been a perennial problem.”

The board’s lone Republican, Brian Hayes, issued a vigorous dissent, saying the proposal would result in the type of “quickie elections” union leaders have long sought. Hayes claimed elections could be held in as little as 10 to 21 days from the filing of a petition, giving employers less of a chance to make their case.

“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.

Read the whole thing here.

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