The National Labor Relations Board likes to use mail ballot elections seemingly more than live elections. Perhaps it’s less costly for the NLRB because it doesn’t need to send an agent to the polling site, I don’t know. But, the Board has put increasing pressure to conduct elections via mail in ballots lately, and a recent ruling gives companies another reason to not consent to them.
In the 24 hours before a conventional, live election, employers are barred from holding “captive audience” meetings where they gather workers during the workday and make a final pitch to vote no for union representation. For elections conducted by mail, the 50-year old standard called for a 24-hour ban starting after the ballots are sent. Starting the clock after the ballots are sent is reasonable. Since mail takes at least a day to be delivered, there is consistency in not permitting captive audience speeches within a day of when the voting actually occurs.
But the Board recently shifted the ban from 24 hours after the ballots are mailed to 24 hours before the ballots are scheduled to be mailed. From a procedural viewpoint, this is huge. Ambush elections have dramatically shrunk the company’s campaign time by weeks, and this shift in the law erodes yet another 24 hours of campaign time, at least. If ballots are scheduled to be mailed on one day, but are not actually sent until a few days later, the gag order is still in place.