On June 22, 2011 the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) proposed several changes to the existing regulations governing union elections. The changes seek to streamline procedures and eliminate the impact of litigation. The proposed rules would alter the way in which representation cases are administratively handled and change the way in which an employer can respond to unionization efforts following the filing of an election petition.
Specifically, the proposed amendments would allow election petitions to be transmitted electronically, require that legal disputes involving less than 20% of the bargaining unit be deferred until after the election, direct employers to provide a preliminary voter list no later than the pre-election hearing, require employers to provide a final voter list in electronic form within two days after an election is scheduled, and would eliminate pre-election requests for review of regional director rulings by consolidating all such requests into a post-election process.
If enacted, the changes would significantly reduce an employer’s ability to discuss the impacts of unionization and collective bargaining with workers prior to an election. According to NLRB Member Brian Hayes, “elections will be held in 10 to 21 days from the filing of the petition.” Hayes is an opponent of the proposed regulations and has said that the purpose underlying the amendments “is to minimize, or rather, to effectively eviscerate an employer’s legitimate opportunity to express its views about collective bargaining.”
Employers should watch closely as the NLRB prepares to rule on these regulations. Passage of these rules would mean less of an opportunity for employers to rebut the arguments made by employees attempting to unionize. The comment and reply period for these regulations ends on September 6, 2011. At that time the NLRB will determine whether the proposed amendments should become final.
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