On May 15, 2012, a federal district court judge for the District of Columbia struck down recent changes to the National Labor Relations Board’s representation election procedures, which were intended to streamline the Board’s representation election process. In response, the Board has halted implementation of these changes, which took effect on April 30, 2012. The court struck down the rules because it determined Republican Board Member Brian Hayes, who had dissented from the Board’s earlier resolution to adopt the new procedures, did not participate in the final vote to approve the election rules. Because only Board Chairman Mark Pearce and then-Member Craig Becker participated in the final vote, the court found that the Board lacked the three-member quorum required for the Board to act, and blocked the Board from continuing to implement the new rules.
For those in the management community, this ruling may be seen as a victory. The rules have been the subject of criticism for adding unnecessary uncertainty to the election process by deferring important questions regarding voter eligibility and unit determinations until after an election, as well as unreasonably shortening the time from the filing of a petition to the time an election is held. However, the final fate of the new election procedures remains uncertain. The Board has issued a statement that it is reviewing the court’s decision, and is “determined to move forward,” although it did not offer a more specific response. We will continue to monitor this situation, and address noteworthy updates in our forthcoming NLRB Roundup summarizing this and other important developments involving the NLRB.