NLRB Pushes New Rules to Facilitate Unionization
Michael R. Corjulo
Talking Points Memo
June 22, 2011
2011 has been a busy year for labor unions across
America. After historic budget battles in Wisconsin and
Ohio, governors in more states like Florida and New
Jersey have been clamping down on collective bargaining
rights and targeting state worker benefits in attempts
to cut spending and balance budgets.
Last week, the National Labor Relations Board made
headlines when it filed a controversial complaint
against Boeing aircraft for moving a plant from
Washington to South Carolina. According to the complaint
Boeing was violating labor laws by allegedly moving the
plant so that the company would not have to deal with
frequent strikes in their Seattle location.
On Tuesday the NLRB also released newly proposed rules
regulating the formation of unions. To form a union,
workers must file a petition with the NLRB which then
conducts a secret-ballot election to ensure that the
majority of employees are on board. According to a
recent New York Times article this process took an
average of 57 days in 2008, giving what aspiring unions
complained has been too much time for employers to
discourage their formation.
The new rules, if implemented as written, would
facilitate the unionization process to modernize the
filing of petitions and streamline the time needed to
hold an election.
The new rules would...
- Allow for electronic filing of election petitions
and other documents.
- Ensure that employees, employers and unions
receive and exchange timely information they need to
understand and participate in the representation
- Standardize timeframes for parties to resolve or
litigate issues before and after elections.
- Require parties to identify issues and describe
evidence soon after an election petition is filed to
facilitate resolution and eliminate unnecessary
- Defer litigation of most voter eligibility issues
until after the election.
- Require employers to provide a final voter list in
electronic form soon after the scheduling of an
election, including voters' telephone numbers and
email addresses when available.
- Consolidate all election-related appeals to the
Board into a single post-election appeals process
and thereby eliminate delay in holding elections
currently attributable to the possibility of pre-
According to NLRB chairman Wilma Liebman, "the current
rules still seem to build in unnecessary delays, to
encourage wasteful litigation, to reflect old-fashioned
communication technologies, and to allow haphazard case-
processing, by not adopting best practices." The new
rules could go into effect after the board to considers
public comments, which includes and hearing set for July
18th and a 60 day period for written comments to be
These proposals come at a time when a historic low 11.9
percent of Americans belong to unions (down from 20.1 in
1983) and when unemployment has not dropped below 8.8
percent in the last 26 months. Many see these
initiatives as designed to hamstring employers from
mediating disputes with their employees while forcing
them to enter collective bargaining agreements which
Job creation has thus far been the defining hot-button
issue of the 2012 campaign and conservatives are certain
to use these new regulations as yet another example of
what they see as the Obama administration's hostility
towards business. In a Wednesday editorial, The National
Review referred to the NLRB as a "runaway agency
pursuing a narrow, partisan political policy rather than
a legitimate public mandate."
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