UNION ORGANIZING ACTIVITY INCREASES DUE TO ELECTION RULE CHANGE
Smaller Companies Targeted
The five-member National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is tasked with interpreting and enforcing the National Labor Relations Act. The agency is supposed to serve as a neutral arbiter of federal labor law, but under the Obama administration it has promoted the narrow policy goals of politically powerful unions. Under the Obama administration, the NLRB has issued controversial, anti-business rule-makings seeking to promote union organizing in the construction industry and elsewhere at the expense of employers and employees. In addition, the NLRB has aggressively expanded its enforcement authority and issued dozens of precedent-reversing legal decisions impacting construction workplaces including decisions on bannering, salting and other troubling union tactics. The NLRB's radical agenda tramples both employer and employee rights.
Most notably, the NLRB finalized its controversial "ambush" elections rule, which went into effect in April. Although currently being challenged in two circuit courts,
on July 30
the US Federal District Court in DC rejected ABCs challenge to NLRB's election rule. ABC anticipates filing an appeal. The rule significantly changes the union representation election process by reducing the amount of time between when a union files a representation petition and an election takes place from a median of 38 days to as few as 10 to 14 days. The rule also seeks to "streamline" the process by deferring or eliminating long-held employer rights. In addition, the rule requires employers to hand over their employees' names, home addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, work locations, shifts and job classifications to union organizers.
Since the ambush election rule went into effect in April, the number of petitions for elections to unionize has risen dramatically. The shortest election to take place, according to National Law Review, was in Region 22 in Newark, New Jersey, where an election was conducted in just nine days. In this instance, employers and employees had just over a week to educate themselves on the facts. Historically, employers had an average of 38 days - a little over a month - to combat and plan for a union election. The extra time was important, allowing small companies that don't have in-house counsel to hire an outside legal expert to ensure they are complying with labor laws and election practices. In fact, recent organizing activity has targeted companies with 30 or fewer employees. Before this rushed ruling, employers had that extra time to speak with their employees and explain what unionization would mean for their individual workplace, and for their paychecks. But not anymore; the ambush election ruling stifles an employer's ability to speak freely with his or her workers and increases the likelihood that a workplace will unionize. History shows that the shorter the amount of time an election takes place after the petition is filed, the greater the likelihood that a company will unionize.
It is extremely important that employers develop and maintain effective programs that will create a workforce that is resistant to the appeals of union organizers. In effect they will be going after the "low hanging fruit." Employers who have an "inoculation" program in place, who have talked to their employees about what is going on, what is likely to happen, and given advanced information, may be passed over. If union organizers are meeting resistance; they are going to go someplace else. Employers must understand and neutralize the appeals of union organizers. Every company should be training management and supervisors how to identify early signs of organizing activity, why an employee would consider union representation and make certain to maintain effective communications and relationships with employees. Please, contact ABC for assistance, especially if you have any reason to suspect your employees are being solicited by union organizers. This is especially true in construction where employees from different employers work side by side and communicate all day long. Your employees need to feel valued, respected and important and the message that they hear and trust the most needs to come from you.