On February 6, 2014, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) reissued its controversial rules aimed at expediting union elections in the workplace. This rule, referred to as the “Ambush Election Rule,” could limit an employer’s right to express its views to employees and respond to union statements. The proposed rules mirror the NLRB’s June 2011 proposal, which ultimately was struck down by a district court in May 2012.
Analogous to the June 2011 proposal, the NLRB’s most recent proposal seeks to significantly impact the current union election process. The proposed reforms are aimed at shortening the election cycle from the current median of 38 days from petition to election to as little as 10 to 21 days. The proposed reforms also would move resolution of voter eligibility determination to after the election; reduce the NLRB’s review of representation cases; expand employer disclosure of employee contact information (including e-mail addresses); and allow more electronic filing with the NLRB.
Despite reducing the amount of time an employer has to communicate its message or rebut the union’s statements, NLRB Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce has stated the proposed rules are intended to “improve the process for all parties.” The NLRB is likely to issue a final rule governing union elections later this year.
The NLRB has issued a proposed rule, and by law, will allow for public comments through April 7, 2014. Employers may direct comments regarding the proposed reforms to the NLRB here. Additionally, the NLRB will hold a public hearing on the proposed rules in Washington D.C. during the week of April 7, 2014, and employers may voice their concerns at the forum.
Finally, employers should consider conducting a vulnerability audit to identify any concerns that can be addressed now (rather than after a final rule is put in place) and should provide supervisors and management with training so they are prepared to address any potential NLRB election situation.