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NLRB clears way for ‘ambush’ union elections

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

The National Labor Relations Board says a new final rule issued Dec. 12 will “streamline” union elections. Critics say the result will be “ambush elections” where voting happens so fast that employers stand little chance of persuading employees to reject union representation.

The new rule, effective April 14, covers elections that certify a union to represent workers. The NLRB supervises union voting, with oversight beginning once one of the parties petitions for an election.

Under current rules, an automatic month-long delay follows receipt of a petition, so the NLRB can consider any review requests the union or employer might file.

Automatic delays go away under the new rule, clearing the way for so-called ambush or “quickie” elections—usually within days. “The newly passed rules effectively minimize an employer’s time and ability to run an anti-union campaign,” said Joel Barras, an employment-law attorney with the Reed Smith law firm.

“While unions will have months to campaign and sign up employees on authorization cards, an employer will be left with only days to respond and provide employees with their position on the benefit of remaining union free,” said David Rittof, a labor-relations expert.

Rittof will be a featured speaker at the HR Specialist’s 2015 Labor and Employment Law Advanced Practices Symposium, which takes place April 8 – 10.

Under the new rule, employers must also provide a list of employees’ personal phone numbers and email addresses. Critics say that gives unions an unfair advantage when persuading workers to approve a union.

Read an NLRB fact sheet about the new rules.

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