Published on 3/3/2014 12:00:00 AM
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is attempting to reissue a series of proposed amendments from 2011 which would speed up the unionization process. The amendments were previously struck down in 2012 due to a lack of NLRB quorum; however, now that the NLRB is once again full, the amendments may get passed.
The proposed reforms would:
- Allow for electronic filing and transmission of election petitions and other documents
- Ensure that employees, employers, and unions receive and exchange timely information they need to understand and participate in the representation case process
- Streamline pre- and postelection procedures to facilitate agreement and eliminate unnecessary litigation
- Include telephone numbers and e-mail addresses in voter lists to enable parties to the election to be able to communicate with voters using modern technology
- Consolidate all election-related appeals to the NLRB into a single postelection appeals process.
Supporters of the amendments say they’re necessary to help streamline the unionization process, which currently takes an average of 42 days to complete. Under the new amendments, this could be shortened to 10 days or less, which critics argue hurts employers by allowing so-called “ambush elections.”
Typically, employers only learn about union organization efforts once petitions are filed. Employers only have the time between the filing of the petition and the election to communicate and bargain with employees. The shorter the time between the two, the less time employers have to meet with employees to discuss unions and the more likely employees are to unionize. Unions aren’t held to these timeframes and may campaign for months, sometimes with inaccurate information, before any petitions are filed. Shortening the time between petitions and elections would give unions an even greater time advantage over employers.
The current picture
Currently, these are only proposed amendments and not the final word. The NLRB plans to hold at least two meetings on April 10th and 11th in Washington, D.C. More meetings may be scheduled for April 8th and/or 9th. The NLRB is accepting Requests to Speak until March 10th and Requests to Attend until March 31st.