Expect the fireworks to resume as the National Labor Relations Board once again is proposing new regulations to speed up the pace of union elections, identical to changes first proposed in 2011.
The proposal calls for allowing for electronic filing and transmission of election petitions and other documents, streamlining pre- and post-election procedures to facilitate agreement, including telephone numbers and email addresses in voter lists, and consolidating all election-related appeals to the board into a single post-election appeals process.
The previous proposed regulation was published in June 2011. The board announced in December of that year it would implement a final rule adopting some of those proposed amendments and defer the remainder for further consideration. However, a federal District Court later ruled that the proposal had been adopted without a quorum of board members, invalidating that final rule. The board’s appeal of that ruling was dismissed on Dec. 9, 2013, forcing it to start the entire process over again.
Issuance of the proposed rule this week was approved by Board Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce and members Kent Y. Hirozawa and Nancy Schiffer, all Democratic appointees, while board members Philip A. Miscimarra and Harry I. Johnson III, Republican appointees, dissented.
“With a Senate-confirmed five-member board, I feel it is important for the board to fully consider public comment on these proposed amendments, along with the comments we previously received in 2011," said Pearce. "These amendments would modernize the representation case process and fulfill the promise of the National Labor Relations Act."
Pearce stressed that the board is reviewing the proposed changes with an open mind.
“No final decisions have been made. We will review all of the comments filed in response to the original proposals, so the public will not have to duplicate its prior efforts in order to have those earlier comments considered,” he said. “Re-issuing the 2011 proposals is the most efficient and effective rulemaking process at this time.”
“These proposals are intended to improve the process for all parties, in all cases, whether non-union employees are seeking a union to represent them or unionized employees are seeking to decertify a union,” Pearce said.
The plan is expected to draw heavy criticism from business groups and Republicans. Supporters say it would eliminate delays when it comes to union organizing.
The proposal is set to be published Thursday in the Federal Register with comments due by April 7, the same week the NLRB plans to hold a hearing on the matter.