Yesterday, the NLRB’s controversial new rule aimed at streamlining the union election process took effect.  Legislative efforts to block or roll back the new rule are stalled in the Senate, and a last-ditch effort to enjoin enforcement of the rule in federal district court failed on Friday.  As a result, at least until challenges to the legality of the NLRB’s new rules have been resolved by the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, certification petitions filed with the NLRB will be subject to the expedited election procedures.

Although no firm timelines for conducting hearings or elections are included in the rule, the changes will have the effect of reducing the rights of employers to challenge the  petitioned for bargaining units, and will expedite the election process.  Specifically, the rule limits the scope of what can be reviewed in the pre-election hearing, and virtually eliminates any right to NLRB review until after the election.

Takeaways:  The practical result of the changes is likely to be that employers caught unprepared will have little time to mount an effective campaign against union certification.  With this in mind, employers should act now to address those workplace problems that tend to increase employee interest in union representation.  Employers who have not already taken action should provide supervisor training that will allow them to:  (1) identify a union organizing effort before a petition has been filed; and (2) represent the interests of management in a way that will not expose the organization to unnecessary unfair labor practice charges.

Please Note:  Petitions filed prior to April 30th will not be subject to the procedures outlined in the new rule.