Employer Alert: NLRB Announces Final Rule on Union Elections
Employers who want to present their workers with alternatives to labor unions may soon have less time to do so if the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has its say. On December 21, 2011, the NLRB announced final rule changes to its election procedures. The final rule, scheduled to take effect on April 30, 2012, would significantly shorten the number of days between the filing of an election petition and the holding of the election. The new rules would reduce this time to an estimated 14 to 24 days, according to some experts.
Employers aren't happy about this. It would give them less time to explain to their employees why a union might not be in their best interests. The rule changes also would reduce the information available to employees regarding who would be represented by the union if the union won the election.
It's uncertain whether the NLRB's final rule will be implemented. Several groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, have sued to block implementation. The House of Representatives recently voted to pass legislation that would block the NLRB's push for a shorter period between a union filing and a union vote, and a similar bill is under consideration in the Senate.
The final rule is only the latest in a series of efforts to reverse union-membership decline. In August, the NLRB approved unions' ability to unionize small segments or departments of a company into "micro-unions," making it easier for unions to establish themselves in workplaces. And just a few years ago, a bill before Congress called the "Employee Free Choice Act" (EFCA) would have allowed unionization without an election under certain circumstances, as well as changed the deadlines and requirements for collective-bargaining agreements and mediation.
While it's not yet clear whether or when the NLRB rule will take effect, it is clear that employers can no longer wait for union activity to prepare for the possibility of unionization. It's important for employers to take proactive steps, including training their managers and supervisors on the essentials of maintaining a cooperative workforce, before employees consider unionization.Categories: Workplace Compliance
Tags: EFCA, NLRB