The National Labor Relations Board has issued a rule changing the regulations that govern union elections. The rule will reduce the time between the filing of a petition for election by the union and the date the election is held. It takes effect on April 14, 2015.
Normally, a union election takes place about six weeks after the union files its petition for election. Many commentators estimate that the new rule will shorten the time to between 10 and 15 days after the petition is filed. The Board stated that these changes are necessary to simplify and streamline the elections process.
Going forward, personal telephone and email addresses will need to be provided to the union as part of the voter list. The Board reasoned that any employee privacy concerns are outweighed by a union’s interest in having access to modern methods of communication. Further, the rule will give the Board the discretion to postpone most employer appeals about voter eligibility until after the date of the election. It will also eliminate the mandatory 25-day period between the time an election is ordered and the date of the election itself.
Two of the five Board members dissented, stating that an employer’s right to engage in protected speech prior to an election has no meaning if there is not “sufficient time for the parties to communicate with employees about the choice of representation.”
Studies have shown that the longer an employer has to respond to a union organizing campaign, the less likely the union is to win the election. Unions have been known to begin organizing campaigns without the employer’s knowledge, and sometimes the employer only hears about the unionization effort after the petition for an election has been filed. By then, the union has had time to communicate its message for months, unbeknownst to the employer. Because of this decision, employers may struggle to communicate their message to their employees adequately prior to the date of the union election. Contact MSEC for more information.