Appeals court upholds labor union election rule

Appeals court upholds labor union election rule
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A federal court of appeals on Friday upheld the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) controversial rule to speed up union elections.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals said in its ruling that the NLRB did not exceed its statutory authority under the National Labor Relations Act in issuing the rule, which allows employees to take a vote on union representation as soon as 11 days after a petition for representation is filed.

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In challenging what's being called the “ambush election” rule, the Associated Builders and Contractors of Texas and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) argued that the rule limits the right of employers to contest voter eligibility or other issues with pre-election hearings.

The groups also claimed that provisions in the rule requiring employers to disclose personal information about employees both before and after the pre-election hearing conflicts with federal privacy laws.

In delivering the opinion of the court, Judge Edith Brown Clement said the “board acted rationally and in furtherance of its congressional mandate in adopting the rule.”

“Here, the board identified evidence that elections were being unnecessarily delayed by litigation and that certain rules had become outdated as a result of changes in technology,” she wrote.

“It conducted an exhaustive and lengthy review of the issues, evidence and testimony, responded to contrary arguments, and offered factual and legal support for its final conclusions.”

In a statement, NFIB said it was disappointed by the court’s decision on Friday.   

“Small businesses everywhere are extremely disappointed by the decision, which puts employers at a severe disadvantage,” said Karen Harned, executive director of NFIB’s Small Business Legal Center.

“The rule essentially makes it impossible for small businesses to respond to unionization campaigns. It also hurts employees by compromising their privacy, as the rule requires them to hand-over sensitive information.”