Are You Ready for a Fast-Track Union Election?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Today the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB’s) new representation case procedures take effect.  And as the saying goes, speed kills.

The NLRB announced the new procedures last December and, in doing so, significantly accelerated the time window from the initial filing of an election petition to the election itself.  According to the NLRB, the new procedures also:

  • Provide for electronic filing and transmission of election petitions and other documents;
  • Ensure that employees, employers and unions receive timely information they need to understand and participate in the representation case process;
  • Eliminate or reduce unnecessary litigation, duplication and delay;
  • Adopt best practices and uniform procedures across regions;
  • Require that additional contact information (personal telephone numbers and email addresses) be included in voter lists, to the extent that information is available to the employer, in order to enhance information sharing by permitting other parties to the election to communicate with voters about the election; and
  • Allow parties to consolidate all election-related appeals to the Board into a single appeals process

On April 6, the NLRB’s General Counsel issued a guidance memorandum, which can be accessed here, describing the key modifications embodied in the final rule, which was published at 79 Fed. Reg. 74308.

These new procedures represent an adverse game-changer for employers striving to remain union-free.  Now, once an election petition is filed with the NLRB, employers will have little time to develop effective response strategies.  In theory, an election can be conducted as quickly as 17 days after a petition is filed. 

The days of methodically drafting anti-union messages for distribution to potential bargaining unit members, training supervisors to communicate those messages lawfully and effectively, and analyzing workforce demographics to identify how best to counteract the union’s organizing efforts, in the lead up to an election, are over.   Employers need to proactively develop union avoidance plans and have them ready to implement, long before union organizers show up in your parking lot or their election petition filing is made.