Seeking to hasten an organizing process ripe for obstruction and fraught with delays, the National Labor Relations Board today proposed changes to the rules governing elections that determine union representation in most U.S. workplaces.
The NLRB, the federal agency that oversees union-organizing elections, voted 3-2 in favor of pursuing the rule change. In a press release, the board said the proposals “are intended to enable the Board to more effectively administer the National Labor Relations Act,” and are “aimed at modernizing processes, enhancing transparency and eliminating unnecessary litigation and delay.”
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who leads the nation’s largest federation of unions, called the rule changes a step toward fixing a broken system.
“When workers petition for an NLRB election, they should receive a timely opportunity to vote,” Trumka said in a press release following the NLRB announcement. “But the current NLRB election process is riddled with delay and provides too many opportunities for employers to manipulate and drag out the process through costly and unnecessary litigation and deny workers a vote.”
According to the NLRB, the proposed reforms include:
• Allowing electronic filing of petitions for election.
• Granting unions access to phone numbers and email addresses so that they can “communicate with voters using modern technology.”
• Streamlining pre-election procedures and post-election appeals.
The proposals are identical to changes proposed by the NLRB in 2011 but blocked by a district court because, with President Obama’s appointments stalled in the Senate confirmation process, the board lacked a quorum at the time. The Senate confirmed all five members of the NLRB in July 2013.
“With a Senate-confirmed five-member Board, I feel it is important for the Board to fully consider public comment on these proposed amendments, along with the comments we previously received in 2011,” NLRB Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce said.
The NLRB will accept public comments on the proposed changes – or make other suggestions for improving the board’s election procedures – through April 7. For more information, go to www.nlrb.gov.