The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) approved a new rule on December 12, 2014 shortening the time between petition filings and union elections. Currently, employers have 38 days after the filing of a petition to prepare for the election. Under the just approved rule, the election could be held 10 – 20 days after the petition filing. This shortened time frame would make it more difficult for employers to get out their message on why employees should vote in favor of the company. The rule is set to take effect on April 15, 2015.
The rule passed 3 – 2 with Board members Mark Gaston Pearce, Nancy Schiffer and Kent Y. Hirozawa approving the rule. This ruling has been called a blow to employers. “The rules…in short are designed to allow unions to get to an election faster and prevent employers from mounting an effective information campaign as they have done under the traditional 42-day period,” according to attorneys from the Armstrong Teasdale LLP law firm in Missouri. In addition to the shortened pre-election period, the new rule has other changes:
- Electronic filing and transmission of election petitions, etc. is now permitted;
- Only issues that are needed to determine the appropriateness of holding the election will be considered in pre-election hearings;
- Voter lists must now include prospective voter’s telephone numbers, emails and home addresses so union representatives could communicate more easily with voters. In addition, the time for employers to submit this information has been decreased from 7 to 2 business days;
- Pre-election hearings would be held 8 days after the petition filing as opposed to the previous 10 – 14 days;
- Post-hearing briefs which had been a matter of right are now at the discretion of a Regional Director. It’s believed that Regional Directors would be hesitant to permit briefs except in very rare cases;
- A statement of position outlining issues must be submitted one business day prior to the hearing. This is a new component to the petition/election process;
- A list of prospective voters’ names, job classifications, shifts, and work locations must be submitted at least one business day prior to the hearing. This is also a new component to the petition/election process;
- Elections will no longer be automatically delayed 25 – 30 days for an NLRB review of a Regional Director’s decision.
Businesses and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have vowed to fight this ruling. “Over the last several years, the NLRB’s activist majority has proved that it has little interest in acting as a neutral arbiter of labor disputes and instead wants to use its power to promote unions,” according to a statement by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
With the approval of this ruling, this makes proactive efforts to address employee satisfaction even more urgent and important. Many factors can lead to employee dissatisfaction and lack of engagement, including lack of autonomy, demotivating work pressures, frequent organizational change, and lack of recognition in the work environment as well as other issues. This dissatisfaction can in turn lead to employees seeking union representation.
Does your company have a strategy to provide proactive employee engagement to create better labor relations and reduce the risk that employees will seek outside representation? You need a approach to employee engagement that includes several key factors:
- Create a shared vision of the desired culture.
- Grant autonomy to employees through employee-led continuous improvement.
- Implement ongoing two-way communications that foster mutual understanding.
- Utilize survey-driven action planning that recognizes and rewards employee innovations and team-building.
- Build employee input into management decisions that directly affect their work environment.
For information, please contact MPi Consulting at email@example.com