(Post written by law firm Verrill Dana)
The Employee Free Choice Act may be a lame duck, but the NLRB seems dead set on changing the representation election process – and not for the better. On June 21, 2011, the NLRB proposed amendments to its existing rules and regulations governing procedures in union representation cases. The proposed amendments would:
- Allow unions to file petitions and other documents electronically;
- Standardize timeframes for pre-election hearings (seven days after service of hearing notice) and post-election hearings (14 days after the tally of ballots);
- Mandate employers provide a final voter list (also known as an Excelsior list) with employee phone numbers and e-mail addresses in electronic form within two (2) days of the direction of election;
- Require parties to identify pre-election issues (like voter eligibility) and describe their supporting evidence within seven (7) days after an election petition is filed;
- Consolidate all election-related appeals to the Board in a single post-election appeals process – thus eliminating pre-election requests for review of the Regional Directors decisions, including voter eligibility determinations; and
- Make Board review of post-election decisions discretionary rather than mandatory.
What does this all mean? It means organized labor may soon have their much desired “quickie” election. If adopted, these new rules would allow representation elections to be held within 10 to 21 days from the filing of a petition and significantly limit an employer’s right to communicate with its workforce and to petition the government for redress.
These new rules underscore the importance of educating your workforce about unionization before a petition is filed. Under the new rules, once a petition is filed employers have a small window of time in which to educate workers. Accordingly, employers should take the time to do the following now:
- Educate employees about union authorization cards and what they really mean. Remember, unions need at least 30% of employees to sign authorization cards before they can file an election petition;
- Educate employees about the risks and downsides of unionization. Do not assume your employees understand what it means to be represented by a union. If you don’t educate them, unions will.
- Conduct a supervisory audit to assess employee morale and proactively address employee concerns. The best way to keep unions out of your facility is to create a work environment where employees say “we don’t need a union.”