The National Labor Relations Board has adopted a final rule that seeks to speed its process for carrying out union representation elections.
Organized labor supports the regulation but business organizations criticize it as the "ambush" rule, because, they contend, it would not give companies enough time to prepare for an election.
Denise Gold, Associated General Contractors of America associate general counsel, said that a coalition of business groups plans to file a legal challenge to the regulation in coming weeks.
The 2011 NLRB rule was struck down by a federal district court in May 2012, although for reasons unrelated to the details of the rule itself. The court said that it invalidated the regulation because the NLRB lacked a quorum. Once the board had a full quorum, it reissued the proposed rule on Feb. 5, 2014.
The rule allows election petitions and other documents to be filed and transmitted electronicaily. It also will streamline pre- and post-election procedures and consolidate all election-related appeals to the NLRB into a single post-election process.
Moreover, it will give access to union organizers telephone numbers and email addresses.
The final rule was approved by NLRB Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce and Members Kent Y. Hirozawa and Nancy Schiffer, all Democrats. Board Members Philip A. Miscimarra and Harry I. Johnson III, who are Republicans, dissented.
In making the announcement, Pearce said, “With these changes, the board strives to ensure the representation process remains a model of fairness and efficiency for all.”
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka called the changes “modest but important reforms.” He said in a statement, “Too often, lengthy and unnecessary litigation over minor issues bogs down the election process and prevents workers from getting the vote that they want.”
But Geoff Burr, Associated Builders and Contractors vice president of government affairs, said, “This rule adds unnecessary pressure to employers and deprives employees of valuable time needed to make a well-informed decision. We will continue to lead the fight against ambush elections through every available avenue.”
AGC’s Gold adds that the regulation is particularly problematic for the construction industry because of the mobile nature of its workforce. She says that it can be difficult even to identify an appropriate bargaining unit and determine who is eligible to vote.
The regulation includes detailed explanations regarding its expected impact on current procedures and the views of the majority and dissenting members.
The rule will be published in the Dec. 15 Federal Register and go into effect on April 14, 2015.