While much of the media over the last few months has been focused on dissecting the November election results, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) very quietly made some very important decisions. As reported here, the NLRB issued a final rule that will speed up union elections.
This new rule will prevent employers from introducing litigation in an effort to slow down the possibility of union elections. Almost all litigation will have to wait for the election to take place before it can proceed. In addition, the rule removes the 25-day waiting period between when the election is ordered and when it takes place. It also requires employers to share employee email and phone information to union organizers so they can be contacted to vote. Lastly, the rule allows for the electronic submission of union election petitions.
While this might seem innocuous to the casual observer, there is a reason the reporter from Politico calls it “the most significant policy change ever undertaken by the Obama administration to strengthen the power of labor unions.”
To see it you have to know what’s behind statements like this from the National Association of Manufacturers: “It’s clear the Administration has an aggressive agenda to uproot longstanding and effective labor policy.”
Effective labor policy. That’s the tell.
Entities like the NAM define “effective” labor policy as policy that is “effective” in keeping workers from forming unions. So, translating the NAM statement into euphemism-free English, it reads, “we are disappointed the Administration has changed the rules that were so favorable to Employers and allowed us to win most union elections.”
Time will tell if this results in more organized workplaces in Maine – as the initial barriers remain in place, like simply getting to an election in the first place. However, this is a bright spot in an otherwise dark policy landscape. With two more years of the current NLRB, hopefully it is also a sign of things to come.
About the author: Ben Grant is an attorney at the workers’ rights law firm, McTeague Higbee. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 207-725-5581.