The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) June 22 issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that would overhaul the procedures surrounding a secret ballot election in a union organizing campaign, potentially reducing the amount of time between when a petition is filed and elections take place from approximately 40 days to as few as 10 days. The reduction in time before an election could significantly impede an employer’s ability to educate its employees about the pros and cons of union representation. 

Under existing procedure, before an election can be held to determine if a company’s employees wish to be represented by a union, a petition must be submitted to the NLRB by employees, labor organizations, or employers. If the parties involved cannot agree on the terms of the election, then the NLRB will conduct a pre-election hearing and also may hold a post-election hearing to resolve further issues. 

The proposed rule would make changes to the procedures that occur before and after an election is held. Some of the changes include:
  • requiring that any pre-election hearings begin within seven days of a hearing notice being served and that a post-hearing be held within 14 days of the final tally of votes in the election; 
  • deferring until after the election litigation for eligibility issues that involve less than 20 percent of the bargaining unit; 
  • eliminating pre-election appeals of NLRB regional director rulings and requiring all appeals be included in a single post-election request; 
  • reducing from 7 days to 2 days the amount of time an employer is allotted to provide a list of eligible voters, in addition to requiring the list to be submitted electronically and include emails and phone numbers; and 
  • requiring (with some exceptions) all parties and the NLRB to transmit election petitions and election notices electronically. 

NLRB Member Brain Hayes did not join the majority in issuing the proposed rule and wrote a dissenting opinion criticizing the proposed rule and the short comment period. 

“[T]he majority has announced its intent to provide a more expeditious pre-election process and a more limited post-election process that tilts heavily against employers’ rights to engage in legitimate free speech and to petition the government for redress,” Hayes wrote in his dissent. “The majority acts in apparent furtherance of the interests of a narrow constituency, and at the great expense of undermining public trust in the fairness of Board elections.” 

ABC will examine the proposed rule closely and will submit comments before the deadline. For more information, visit the NLRB website.