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NLRB Issues Final Rules Revising Union Election Procedures

    Client Alerts
  • January 02, 2015

Last month, the National Labor Relations Board issued final regulations intended to streamline unionization election procedures. If upheld after judicial challenge, the rules will substantially hinder the ability of employers to react to unionization efforts, or to object to the composition of the proposed bargaining unit prior to the scheduled election. Absent judicial intervention, the new regulations take effect April 14, 2015.

The NLRB adopted the rules in a 3-2 vote cast along party lines. The Board majority justified the changes based on efficiency and reduction in procedural delays. The regulations significantly reduce the period of time between the filing of the petition and the election. Most employer objections to the structure of the proposed bargaining unit or other elements of the unionization petition would not be heard until after the election.

Employers strenuously objected to these changes. The reduction in the election period is viewed as an attempt to restrict employers from presenting their side of the unionization question. Employers often are unaware of organizing efforts until the petition is filed (referred to as an “ambush election”), meaning that they will have limited opportunities to fully respond to the organizing efforts. Employers also contend that the NLRB will be considerably more reluctant to overturn election results, reducing the effectiveness of legal challenges to the initial petition.

The new rules contain other measures intended to make unionization efforts easier. Employers will be required to provide additional contact information for employees, such as email addresses. Affected employers are likely to challenge the regulations on a number of legal grounds, including violation of free speech rights.