Labor Board Asks: Retain, Modify, or Rescind ‘Quickie Election’ Rules?
A Request for Information regarding the representation regulations (at 29 CFR parts 101 and 102) will be published on December 13, 2017, the National Labor Relations Board has announced. The RFI will seek input on the 2014 amendments to representation case procedures that reduced the opportunities for employers to communicate with their employees about union issues between the filing of a representation petition and the NLRB-conducted election.
The amendments, which took effect on April 14, 2015, allowed union organizing to move at an accelerated pace by, among other things, significantly reducing the time between the filing of a representation petition and the election from an average of approximately six weeks to an average of 23 days. Other provisions create substantial burdens on employers by requiring, within seven days, the submission of an onerous Statement of Position addressing all potential bargaining unit issues, the provision of copious amounts of information regarding potential voters, and deferring critical election issues, such as supervisory status issues, until after the election is held.
While the Board’s stated purpose in adopting the 2014 rules was to simplify representation-case procedures, the rules placed substantial pressure on employers to make critical decisions and produce important documentation within tight deadlines. By compressing the time period between the filing of the petition and the election, the rules also eliminated much of an employer’s ability to communicate with its employees about unionization issues.
From December 13, 2017, through February 12, 2018, the NLRB will allow interested parties to respond to three questions about the current rule:
(1) Should the 2014 Election Rule be retained without change?
(2) Should the 2014 Election Rule be retained with modifications? If so, what should be modified?
(3) Should the 2014 Election Rule be rescinded? If so, should the Board revert to the Representation Election Regulations that were in effect prior to the 2014 Election Rule’s adoption, or should the Board make changes to the prior Representation Election Regulations? If the Board should make changes to the prior Representation Election Regulations, what should be changed?
Before April 14, 2015, elections traditionally were conducted approximately six weeks after the filing of a representation petition. A return to this longer period would afford employers a much more reasonable amount of time to communicate with their employees about unionization. In addition, employers would be able to focus on providing critical information to employees about their rights and the advantages and disadvantages of unionization.
It remains to be seen what action, if any, the Board will take after reviewing the answers it receives. Nevertheless, its RFI should be cause for optimism among employers.