The National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or the “Board”) has been in turmoil since the election of President Obama. The Board, which is supposed to have five members, is now down to three, and will shrink to only two when the appointment of one Democratic member, Craig Becker, expires soon. Meanwhile, the Senate continues to block Obama’s replacement nominees.
After President Obama was elected, labor unions began urging the NLRB to make procedural changes to reduce the time it took to hold unionization elections. Unions expect that speedy elections will make it easier for them to win such votes, in part because employers will have less time to mount campaigns to persuade employees to vote against unionizing.
While still holding a 2-1 Democratic majority, the NLRB has adopted new rules which are scheduled to take effect on April 30, 2012. Under these rules employers must postpone any legal challenges to elections until after the workers vote. Under current procedures, these challenges, which often question which workers are in the potential bargaining unit and therefore eligible to vote, are generally filed before votes are cast. Doing so obviously delays the time for an election until the appropriate bargaining unit is determined.
In the interim, the United States Chamber of Commerce has filed a federal lawsuit to block the rules from taking effect. According to the suit, it claims that the rules violate the Board’s own procedures and illegally deny employers their free speech right by denying them adequate opportunity to make the case against unions.
In addition, union leaders are urging even more far reaching changes before the Board contracts. They have proposed that unions be given the email addresses and telephone numbers of workers eligible to vote when a representation petition is filed. Doing so obviously provides increased opportunities to unions for electioneering.
For more information on the NLRB and how these issues affect employers and employees, contact Titus Brueckner & Levine PLC at 480-483-9600.