The National Labor Relations Board has reissued a proposal to streamline the union-representation election process that is virtually identical to a controversial rule first proposed in June 2011.
Employer-oriented construction and business groups opposed the original changes, saying the proposed revisions would not give employers enough time to prepare for union elections.
In May 2012, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia invalidated the rule, saying the board lacked a quorum when the changes were issued. The court did not make a judgement on the merits of the rule itself.
Now that the full board has a full quorum, the board decided to reissue the rule, said NLRB Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce, a Democrat, in a Feb. 5 announcement.
Sean Thurman, director of legislative affairs for the Associated Builders & Contractors, says it is "incredibly likely" an ABC-chaired coalition of employer groups that opposed the rule in 2011 will once again file a legal challenge. "We're as concerned now as we were with the first proposal." Shortening the time between filing a petition for an election and the actual election is unfair to both employers and employees, he says. Thurman adds that, according to the NLRB's own statistics, about 95% of union elections are occurring within 56 days, "which meets NLRB's own … goals."
But Sarita Gupta, executive director of Jobs With Justice, a workers advocacy group, says shortening the time before the election is held will "minimize the exposure some employees will face" to retaliation and threats from employers.
The proposal was published in the Federal Register on Feb. 6.