New NLRB Rules 'Modest Step to Election Fairness'
Cross posted from the AFL-CIO blog.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) this morning released proposed changes in the way union representation elections are conducted that the NLRB says will “reduce unnecessary barriers to the fair and expeditious resolution of questions concerning representation.”
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says the proposed changes are a “modest step to remove roadblocks and reduce unnecessary and costly litigation—and that’s good news for employers as well as employees. But he adds:
The proposed rule does not address many of the fundamental problems with our labor laws, but it will help bring critically needed fairness and balance to this part of the process.
Trumka says the rules “appear to be a common sense approach to clean up an outdated system and help ensure that working women and men can make their own choice about whether to form a union.”
When workers want to vote on a union, they should get a fair chance to vote. That’s a basic right. But our current system has become a broken, bureaucratic maze that stalls and stymies workers’ choices. And that diminishes the voice of working people, creates imbalance in our economy and shrinks the middle class.
Because the changes will clean up a system plagued by delays, bureaucracy and litigation, the rule is good for employers, employees and taxpayers who foot the fill.
The proposed changes 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 case process.
- 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 litigation.
- 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-election appeals.
Make Board review of post-election decisions discretionary rather than mandatory.
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, says that a key part to rebuilding the middle class “is ensuring that every American worker has the same right that powerful CEOs take for granted—the right to sign a contract ensuring fair treatment on the job.”
The [NLRB’s] modernized election rules take an important step forward in making this right a reality. By giving workers the right to a fair, up-or-down vote, the rules don’t encourage unionization or discourage it —workers get to make the decision that is best for them. But preserving this right brings some balance to the system, so that the deck isn’t always stacked against ordinary working people and in favor of the wealthy and the powerful.
Trumka warns that while the proposed changes are modest, he expects that in “poisonous political environment” there will be a torrent of attacks from politicians and ideologues opposed to any protection of workers’ rights.” Such opposition is pure politics, part of unprecedented attacks on workers’ rights. Whether you’re a teacher, firefighter or nurse’s aide – right-wing legislators and their corporate funders have made it clear that their ultimate aim is to take away workers’ rights on the job
We call on leaders from both sides of the aisle to defend the independence of the NLRB. Political interference with any independent agency sets a dangerous precedent that should not be tolerated.
Click here for a fact sheet and summary of the proposed changes from the NLRB.