Having scheduled a public hearing (April 10 and 11, 2014) on its resurrected proposal for accelerated representation case procedures, the National Labor Relations Board has published a list of “issues” it wants addressed at the hearing. Many of these issues indicate the Board’s overhaul of its representation case procedures may be even more radical than previously reported.
On February 26, 2014, the NLRB announced that “the purpose of the meeting will be to allow interested persons to participate in the rulemaking through oral presentation on the proposed amendments to the Board’s rules governing representation-case procedures and to make any other proposals for improving representation case procedures.” The Board’s instructions require individuals wanting to speak to designate the issues they want to address from a list prepared by the NLRB. The list of issues is extensive and includes the following:
- Whether electronic signatures should be permitted to satisfy the showing of interest.
- Whether, upon service of the petition, the employer should be required to post an initial Board notice to the employees describing the petition and procedures.
- Whether the notice should be distributed electronically, either by the region or by the employer.
- What information the voter lists should contain, whether Excelsior should be updated with modern forms of contact information and how to strike the correct balance of NLRA, privacy, and other interests.
- Whether employees might be able to opt-out of or opt-in to the inclusion of certain information on voter lists.
- Whether other means of communication might be created, such as government-hosted electronic forums or e-mails.
- Whether the election should be scheduled “as soon as practicable.”
- If the election should not be scheduled “as soon as practicable,” whether the rules should contain a minimum or maximum time between the filing of the petition and the election, and if so, how long.
- Whether the proposed rules adequately protect free speech interests.
- If the proposed rules do not adequately protect free speech interests, how should the rules be amended to accommodate those interests.
- Whether or how the rules should address “blocking charge” policy and the procedures used for placing a representation case in abeyance pending the outcome of unfair labor practice charges.
These and other issues identified in the notice indicate that the changes proposed by the Board for its representation case procedures may be only a prelude to further agency efforts aimed at shoring up unions while diminishing employee free choice.