Labor board speeds up union elections

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is moving forward with a controversial rule that will speed up union elections, in what’s being hailed as a victory for labor groups and a stinging defeat for businesses.

The rule is aimed at “reducing unnecessary delays” that labor officials say often discourages workers from unionizing.

“Too often, lengthy and unnecessary litigation over minor issues bogs down the election process and prevents workers from getting the vote they want,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a statement. “We commend the NLRB’s efforts to streamline the process and reduce unnecessary delay."

ADVERTISEMENT

Trumka said the union election rule will give workers an opportunity to vote “in a timely manner.”

But business groups say the rule is unfair because it does not give them enough time to prepare for union elections. They say it also prevents employees from taking time to consider all the facts.

“Shortening the time frame before an election robs employees of the ability to gather the facts they need to make an important and informed decisions like whether or not to join a union and denies employers adequate time to prepare,” Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, said in a statement. 

The NLRB’s union election rule comes two years after a previous version was struck down in federal court. The agency reissued the rule in February with few changes, but believes it will stand up in court this time around.

Business groups have coined terms “ambush” and “quickie” elections to express their frustration with the rule.

The NLRB rule states that a pre-election hearing will be held eight days after a petition is filed, after which point the agency will "set the election for the earliest date practicable."

ADVERTISEMENT

Though the rule does not offer a more specific time frame for the whole process, business groups speculate a vote could take place in as little as 10 days.

This would be a dramatic shift from the current average of more than 30 days, business groups say. They have been painting the rule not only as a negative for companies, but also employees who they say will be rushed to make a decision.

“This is a devastating rule for employees through the retail industry,” said David French, senior vice president of government relations for the National Retail Federation.

“The NLRB already conducts a vast majority of representation elections within a reasonable time frame and this rule is simply unnecessary and unfair,” he added.