This morning, I appeared on Ray Dunaway’s show on WTIC radio (1080 AM) to discuss the NLRB’s new proposed rules on union representation elections.  (A link will be available when it is posted online.)

Photo courtesy Library of Congress (1947)

Of course, in 5 minutes, there wasn’t much time to explain everything about it (here’s a summary of the proposals from the NLRB itself), so here’s a bit more:

  • First, these are only proposed rules now; the NLRB is taking public comment for the next 60 days and will then decide whether or not to revise them and whether to release them in final form.
  • NLRB member Brian Hayes dissented from the proposal and said that these proposal essential adopt organized labor’s goals:

[B]y administrative fiat in lieu of Congressional action, the Board will impose organized labor’s much sought-after ‘quickie election’ option, a procedure under which elections will be held in 10 to 21 days from the filing of the petition. 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.

  • Among the changes that are proposed a to reduce the time for an initial hearing from 14 days to 7.   Employers will be required to submit a list of issues by that time. That is an extraordinary short amount of time for an employer to mount any kind of serious opposition or even research into issues that may arise.
  • Under the new rules, an employer would be required to submit to the union a final list of eligible votes two days after an election has been scheduled (down from 7).  The list must also include the employee’s phone number and e-mail address.  Query whether the employee has a legitimate privacy interest in having this information kept confidential.
  • There are plenty of summaries of other proposed changes available, including an update from Labor Relations Today, which was one of the first to analyze it.

No doubt that one of the questions that employers will ask is why are these rules necessary?  The median time to hold an election is 38 days now, and unions win over 67% of elections.  Surely that number will go higher if these proposals are adopted.   The NLRB believes these rules can improve the election system further:

[T]he current rules still seem to build in unnecessary delays, to encourage wasteful litigation, to reflect old-fashioned communication technologies, and to allow haphazard case-processing, by not adopting best practices. It is worth asking, again, whether the Board can now do a better job, and can better serve the employees, employers, and unions that participate in the election process.

Anyone can submit public comments about the proposed rules. For more information, see the NLRB’s website.