The NLRB’s “Quickie Election” rules became effective on April 14, 2015. During the month prior to that time, an average of 42 election petitions were filed each week. Between April 14 and May 14, that average increased to 60 per week. The average time for the election from the date the petition was filed moved from 48 days during the four weeks prior to April 14 to 23.5 days afterward.
We suspect that in a number of situations, unions held off filing a petition until the new election procedures became effective. After all, unions win approximately 80% of all elections that are held within 18 days of the date the petition is filed.
Time—and employer preparation—will tell whether this is rise in the number of petitions filed is a one-time spike or an ongoing trend. If employers step up their unionization vulnerability assessments and avoidance approaches, it’s likely the total number of petitions filed with decline. Unions may increase the proportion of elections they win, but employer efforts to avoid becoming targets of campaigns may reduce the total number of elections held. If there are fewer elections, unions may respond by filing petitions with a lower level of support. Under the old election timetable, unions knew that the peak of support was the date the petition was filed and would decrease over the course of a five to six week campaign. Consequently, while the law requires a union to demonstrate only 30% support to petition for an election, unions typically do not petition unless they have the support of 60% or more of the employees. Under the new timetable, unions may file petitions with a lower percentage of support, believing they can build momentum for a victory, especially if it appears that the employer is unaware of the pre-petition campaign and ill- equipped to launch an effective post-petition campaign in the reduced time period.