A coalition representing an array of industry sectors and businesses filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Monday to stop the National Labor Relations Board from moving forward with plans to speed up the time for union representation elections by workers and labor unions.
Rules issued by the NLRB on Dec. 12 would change longstanding labor policy by shortening the time frame for businesses to hold union elections to as little as 14 days, far less than the typical amount of time between when a petition is filed with the government for an organizing election and when it happens.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce filed the suit, along with the lobby group the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Retail Federation, and the Society for Human Resource Management.
“The NLRB’s rule drastically accelerates the union election process, depriving employers of their right to explain to employees the impacts of unionizing,” said Randy Johnson, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s senior vice president of labor, immigration, and employee benefits. “Furthermore, we question the need for the regulation given that 95% of all elections are now conducted within two months and that unions win more than two-thirds of them.”
According to the lawsuit, the rule violates the National Labor Relations Act and the Administrative Procedure Act, as well as employers’ free speech and due process constitutional rights. In particular, the lawsuit challenges the board’s rule as impermissibly limiting employers’ rights to communicate with employees about unionization by dramatically shortening the period between the filing of a union election petition and the holding of the election itself.
It said a similar regulation was issued in 2011, which the U.S. Chamber of Commerce successfully challenged on the ground that the regulation was invalid because of the lack of a proper quorum of NLRB members.
“The chamber already won a legal battle against the NLRB when it issued this rule in 2011, and we will continue to use all available means to push back against the Board’s overreach,” Johnson said.
The move comes as the Teamsters Union has been waging a series of organizing elections at the less-than-truckload operations of Con-way and FedEx, with mixed results, including having to withdraw some election petitions.