On September 1, 2015 the National Labor Relations Board communicated to all NLRB filed employees that they can “accept e-mail exchanges and various ‘internet/intranet sign-up methods’ to support a union organizing petition instead of the traditional authorization cards used for the past 60 years”.
The authorization cards have always been necessary to ensure the authenticity of the signature as well as the date. The signature decreased the chances of fraudulent signing by other individuals while the date signified the current nature of the signature. With this new change, employees will now just have to simply email their desire to be unionized or go to a website and check a box. The requirements for an electronic signature/email to be valid are simple and include:
- Signer’s name;
- Signer’s email address “or other known contact information, such as a social media account in the event employee uses Twitter to ‘Tweet’ his or her signature”;
- Signer’s telephone number;
- Statement that employee wants union representation (for purposes of collective bargaining, etc.);
- Electronic signature submission date;
- Employer name.
To validate the process, a return message must be sent to the employee as confirmation of his/her submission. Also, the union must provide a statement attesting to its method of validating the signatures.
When the previous changes to the union election rules are combined with this new development, the ability for organizations to combat union-organizing attempts is further handicapped. With no need to distribute physical union authorization cards, organizations may be unaware of union organizing attempts up until the time they receive a union petition. In addition, organizations now have a much shorter window in which to educate employees about unions prior to the election. The only bright spot in this change is that employees can use email/website means in support of a decertification petition.