HR Management & Compliance

NLRB’s Decision to Hold Vote on Quicker Elections Drawing Fire

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has decided to hold a vote on November 30 on portions of a controversial proposal that would speed up union elections. That decision is sparking outrage among foes of the measure.

“This announcement confirms what we’ve suspected all along: the Obama NLRB is determined to impose a flawed rule that will cripple American workers’ free choice,” U.S. Representative John Kline said in a statement issued just after the NLRB announcement of its vote. Kline, a Minnesota Republican, is chair of the House Education and the Workforce Committee.

The November 30 vote is to decide whether the NLRB will adopt some of the amendments to its election procedures it proposed earlier this year. In mid-June, the Board published a proposed rule it said would “simplify procedures, make them more uniform across regional offices, and reduce unnecessary litigation.”

A statement from the NLRB said it received more than 65,000 written comments on the proposal. Plus, during a two-day hearing in July, the Board heard testimony from 66 speakers.

Among other things, the proposed amendments would require holding a vote within 21 days of a formal request to form a union. Business interests have criticized the proposal, saying such quick elections wouldn’t allow them time to adequately respond to union-organizing efforts.

The rapidly approaching end of the year played a role in the NLRB’s decision to set a date for its vote on the proposed amendments. “In response to those comments (received on the proposal last summer), and in light of the possibility that the Board will lose a quorum at the end of the current congressional session, Board Chairman Mark Pearce will propose issuing a final rule limited to several provisions designed to reduce unnecessary litigation,” the Board statement announcing the November 30 vote said.

The NLRB is supposed to have five members, but it currently has just three, and the term of one member, Democrat Craig Becker, expires at the end of the year. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that the Board can’t issue rulings with just two members.

The lone Republican on the NLRB, Brian Hayes, is accusing his colleagues on the Board of misleading Kline’s Education and the Workforce Committee because of its oversight efforts on what Kline calls the “ambush elections” proposal.

A statement from the House committee says that Kline sent a letter to Pearce on October 27 asking for the NLRB’s timeline for finalizing the rule. In a response on November 10, Pearce included a timeline saying the date for the Board vote was unknown. Hayes told Kline in a letter dated November 18 (the day the November 30 vote was announced) that the Board did have a timeline. He said the other two members of the Board “are committed to issuing a final [rule] before Member Becker’s recess appointment expires at the end of the current Congressional session.”

The statement from the House committee also says that “in the coming weeks,” the House is expected to consider the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act (H.R. 3094), which would “roll back the NLRB’s devastating ambush election scheme by reaffirming long-standing workforce protections.”

Learn more about labor relations and union organizing with Mastering HR: Labor and Organizing

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