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NLRB Modernizes Union Representation Election Rules

December 30, 2014

By Laurence M. Goodman

As part of a year-end flurry of developments in a number of areas, including employee access to employer email systems (Purple Communications) and deferral to grievance arbitration (Babcock & Wilcox Construction Company), on Dec. 12, 2014, the National Labor Relations Board announced a new final rule governing union representation elections. The final rule, published in the Federal Register on Dec. 15, 2014, will modernize and streamline the NLRB’s process for handling union representation elections.

In response to long-standing employee and union concerns about unnecessary costs, delays and employer abuses associated with NLRB elections, the new rule on elections streamlines election timelines and procedures, increases transparency and uniformity in elections across the country, deters unnecessary litigation and delays associated with union elections, and revises outdated rules on documents and communications to reflect modern technology.  
According to the board, the new election rules will provide “targeted solutions to discrete, specifically identified problems to enable the Board to better fulfill its duty to protect employees’ rights by fairly, accurately and expeditiously resolving questions of representation.”

Among its many improvements, the new NLRB final rule:

  • Provides for electronic filing and transmission of election petitions and other documents;
  • Requires employers to provide the union with a voter list with job classifications, shifts and work locations the day before the pre-election hearing; 
  • Requires employers to include telephone numbers and email addresses on voter lists, to the extent that information is available to the employer; 
  • Requires employers to provide a position statement at least one day before the pre-election hearing, and prohibits changes, absent good cause; 
  • Requires pre-election hearings to be scheduled not later than eight days after the filing of the election petition;
  • Avoids delays by generally disallowing the filing of legal briefs following pre-election hearings and by permitting deferral of certain eligibility challenges until after the election. 

Union advocates and workers expect that that the new rules should result in a fairer playing field in which election results more closely reflect the overwhelming support unions receive in worker polls. Not surprisingly, management groups have threatened legal challenges to the final rule, which is slated to become effective April 14, 2015.

If you have any questions concerning the new NLRB election rules or the union organizing/election process, please contact any of the Labor Law attorneys at Willig, Williams & Davidson.

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