Texas court upholds labor board's union election rule

The Obama administration should be allowed to speed up the process by which employees unionize, a federal judge ruled Monday.

Judge Robert Pitman of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas tossed out a lawsuit from business groups challenging the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) union election rule

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and the Texas chapters of the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) argued that speeding up union elections would not give companies enough time to prepare.

“We are deeply disappointed by the Texas court ruling and we plan to appeal the decision,” said Karen Harned, executive director of the NFIB's Small Business Legal Center, a plaintiff in the Texas case.

The NLRB, which has maintained the rule is needed to prevent businesses from using delaying tactics to block employees from organizing, declined to comment.

The NLRB’s rule — maligned as the “ambush election” rule in business circles — could allow union elections to occur as little as two weeks after a petition is filed, critics claim.

Currently, it takes an average of 38 days to hold a union election, according to the NLRB.

Businesses say the shorter time frame would make it difficult for them to prepare and give labor groups an inherent advantage.

"The ambush election is a very badly disguised effort on the part of the federal government to rig the outcome of union elections in favor of organized labor and we don’t believe it’s legal,” Harned said.  

Pitman disagreed. 

“[The] plaintiffs point to nothing in the record which supports their conclusion that the board intended to favor organized labor,” he wrote.

The NLRB’s rule has now withstood congressional and legal attempts to overthrow it.

Congressional Republicans pushed through a measure that would have overturned the rule earlier this year, but they were unable to override President Obama’s veto.

Another lawsuit from a different set of business groups — including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, and National Retail Federation — is still pending in federal court.

The NFIB has vowed to appeal the judge’s decision in a case that could make its way to the Supreme Court.