Toward the end of last year, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) finalized a rule for “quickie” or “ambush” elections. The final rule significantly diminishes the amount of time for workplace elections and threatens the unionization of workplaces without labor having secured the employees’ un-coerced majority support.
The Obama labor board majority, formed in April 2010, waited until June 2011 to propose a rule which would make startling changes in Board law and procedures. While the NLRB claimed the reason for the rule was delay in Board elections; that was in stark contrast to an earlier report of the acting general counsel who described the elections as taking place in a remarkably short period of time.
The unstated goal of the rule was to give organized labor the next best thing to card check: limiting, if not eviscerating, the time an employer has to express its views on unionization and its employees’ right to hear those views and make an informed choice. The predominant, perhaps only, story the employees would hear is Big Labor’s and there are few limits on a union’s ability to make promises that cannot reasonably be kept.
The proposal was so controversial that the NLRB received more than 65,000 comments, the vast majority of which were opposed the rule change. Since the Board is legally required to carefully consider each of the comments it receives and address the issues they raise, there was insufficient time for it to do so before labor radical Craig Becker’s term ended. As a result, the NLRB’s two member majority issued a final rule that was pared back from what had been originally proposed.
The rule nevertheless limits employer free speech by cutting the amount of time for NLRB elections at least in half. And the rule stacks the deck unfairly in favor of unionization by pushing board review of pre-election issues such as the appropriateness of the bargaining unit and voter eligibility until after the election, issues that can determine whether an election should have taken place at all. The changes were designed to pressure employers to accept the results of elections even if the business has evidence that the election results do not reflect the un-coerced majority support of the employees.
The Board emphasized in its announcement of the new rule that this was only the beginning, that it anticipated the next Obama NLRB would complete its work and promulgate the balance of the proposed rule. Only a few weeks ago, the new chairman, a former union lawyer, Mark Pearce announced his intent to do just that. He chillingly stated, “We keep our eye on the prize.”