Today, the National Labor Relations Board announced a new rule aimed at speeding up the process for union elections, in an attempt to prevent employers from using the various tactics they break out to delay and ultimately undermine unionization drives. According to research by John-Paul Ferguson of Stanford Business School, 35 percent of the time that workers file a petition for a union election, the election does not occur due to the many steps that employers take — including bringing in anti-union consultants — to delay elections for weeks, if not years.
Currently, the average time between workers filing a petition for an election and the election taking place is 58 days, ample time for employers to engage in coercion and intimidation, or to fire pro-union workers (which happens in 25 percent of union drives). But congressional Republicans — who are whipped into an uproar by any step that favors workers over corporations — still screamed bloody murder over the change:
HOUSE LABOR COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN JOHN KLINE (R-MN) “urged the [NLRB] to ‘scrap’ what he called a ‘reckless’ and ‘job-destroying agenda.” “Not only will this misguided proposal to expedite union elections undermine an employer’s lawful right to communicate with his or her employees, it will cripple a worker’s ability to make an informed decision,” he said.
SEN. MIKE ENZI (R-WY): “This is just the latest outrage from a runaway agency.”
As the Center for American Progress’ David Madland wrote, the rule would simply “address the roadblocks that commonly are thrown up when the NLRB attempts to set up an election”:
The proposed rule would address the roadblocks that commonly are thrown up when the NLRB attempts to set up an election. There is currently no limit on employers’ or unions’ ability to demand a pre-election hearing on most any issue, including the eligibility of employees to vote, or the scope of the bargaining unit, which can be used to delay an election. Many of these issues could be resolved after voting, and others are manufactured for purposes of delay and don’t need to be resolved at all, ever. As former NLRB General Counsel Fred Feinstein explains, “The problem has been that a party in any election case has the ability to undermine the expression of employee free choice by manipulating Board procedures to create delay.”
As CAP CEO John Podesta wrote, “The rule won’t fix every barrier facing workers trying to organize, but it’s a common-sense step to help make the union election process more democratic and restore middle-class Americans’ foothold in the economy.” But for Republicans, any step that might aid workers in joining together to collectively bargain is to be treated with the utmost contempt.