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Lawsuits flying as NLRB pushes ahead with new union elections rules

By   /   January 16, 2015  /   News  /   No Comments

By Eric Boehm | Watchdog.org

A federal judge will settle the question of how fast is too fast when it comes to workplace labor union elections – again.

Lawsuits were filed this week by several business groups challenging a recently announced rule from the National Labor Relations Board, or NLRB, that allows for union elections to proceed more quickly. Employers worry the speedier timeframe will not give them the opportunity to counter unionization pushes and say the NLRB has issued the new rules in order to help unions bolster their numbers after years of decline.

Graphic via NLRB website

NOT SO FAST: New rules issued by the NLRB allowing workplace unionization elections to take place more quickly have been challenged in federal court – again.

“We are proud to join the legal fight against the ambush rule, which is designed to deprive employers, particularly small businesses who typically do not employ legal counsel, of the opportunity to tell their side of the story during organizing campaigns,” Josh Tompkins, president of the Associated Builders and Contractors’ central Texas chapter, said in a statement.

Unions say the shorter pre-election period will prevent employers from using a variety of stall tactics as a way to keep their workers from organizing. Under the new rules, elections could take place as soon as 10 days after they are called — far quicker than the average of 38 days.

The new rules also require employers to provide union organizers with their employees’ personal information — including phone numbers and email addresses — to help organizing efforts.

That’s “a major privacy concern,” said Jon Fisher, president of ABC Texas.

The ABC’s lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. The National Federation of Independent Businesses also filed a lawsuit this week in Texas challenging the new rules, while the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has filed a lawsuit with the federal court in Washington, D.C.

It will be the second time the issue has ended up in federal court.

In 2011, the NLRB published a similar rule but it was struck down in federal court, which determined the NLRB had acted inappropriately by approving the new rules without a majority of its five members present.

This time, the NLRB followed proper procedure to pass the new rules. Instead, the new legal challenge focuses on whether the NLRB is allowed to make such a sweeping overhaul of the union election process.

“This time in litigation, we will have to fight on the merits of the rule and whether this is an overstepping of the board’s authority, which we believe it is,” Glenn Spencer, vice president of the Workforce Freedom Initiative at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told Watchdog.org.

Unless a court or Congress blocks the implementation of the new rules, they will go into effect on April 14.