NLRB Chairman Proposes rules to Increase Fairness, Efficiency in Union Elections

Mark Pearce, Chairman of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) seeks to propose new rules to help unions organize members or potential members.

In December, the NLRB approved other new regulations that allow union elections to proceed faster than the law previously mandated.  Though business leaders oppose the new rules, they will take effect on April 30 of this year.   

President Barack Obama’s January 2012 recess appointment of three new Board members Griffin, Flynn, and Block bring the NLRB to its full five-member capacity, for the first time since August of 2010.  The new members, along with existing Chairman Pearce and Member Brian Hayes, now operate at full strength.  Though the recess appointments are currently being challenged as unconstitutional, the Board continues to operate on the notion that the appointments were constitutional.  The new appointments allow the Board to move forward in voting on the new proposed rules.

Currently, employer businesses are not required to provide the phone numbers, email addresses, or other contact information of its employees to people trying to organize a union at their place of employment.  Pearce proposes a rule that would require employers to provide this information to union organizers.  Without the rule, organizers are left to scrounge for that information on their own, making it difficult to access voters.  Opponents of a rule of this nature argue that Obama’s administration is too pro-union, and that the new rules undermine what should be neutral laws.  On the other hand, union supporters point out that the employer has a built-in advantage by having unrestricted access to potential voters, undermining the free choice voters should have when making their decision whether or not to support a union.  Union leaders contend that each side – both union organizers and employer management – should have equal access to the pool of employees, and each employee should in turn be able to freely choose whether or not to support the union. 

Additionally, Pearce seeks to implement rules that would accelerate the union election process.  Currently, the regulated is lengthy, but business leaders fear that speeding up the process will restrict the amount of time employers have to inform employees about why they should not support a union. 

Pearce argues that the new rules will allow a more efficient process, saving time and reducing waste for both unions and employers. 

For more information about the origin of the news in this article, see this Washington Post article.

For more information about the NLRB’s new appointees, see this link.