Friday, March 13, 2015

Congressional GOP takes aim at NLRB reforms that speed union elections

The Republican-dominated Congress is set to overturn a new National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rule to make it harder for employers to thwart union elections.

On March 4, the Senate voted 53-46 along party lines on a resolution to kill the new NLRB rule. The House of Representatives will likely do the same before it takes effect on April 14, 2015.

The NLRB rule requires employers to share email addresses and phone numbers with a union seeking an election and ends the 25-day delay between the time employees file an election petition and the election itself.

The Teamsters strongly support the changes because they will make elections fairer. In a formal statement to the NLRB, Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa called the current election rules "unfair, confusing, outdated and susceptible to abuse by unscrupulous employers seeking to prevent their workers from exercising their right to organize by obstructing and delaying the process."

President Obama has not said he will veto the resolution. The White House, however, stated its strong opposition to an attempt in 2012 to overturn the rule, saying the NLRB had adopted "commonsense measures."

According to Blooomberg BNA,
The White House said that if the 2012 measure reached the president's desk, “senior advisers” would have recommended that he veto it.
Ross Eisenbrey, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, attended a House committee hearing on the issue. He reported that a nurse was the only person allowed to testify in favor of the new rule. Wrote Eisenbrey:
Brenda Crawford, the registered nurse who testified, said her employer bombarded employees with e-mails and texts in the weeks before the election, in addition to daily anti-union messages at work, including captive audience meetings where nurses were called away from patient care to hear anti-union harangues. When she tried to put out union literature in the employee break room, it was removed. She testified that the company’s ability to campaign throughout the workday, and electronically when the workday ended, overwhelmed the nurses and their union, who had no way to respond.
Eisenbrey reported that Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., defended the NLRB rules during the hearing:
... delay in holding elections is associated with increases in unfair labor practices, which can be vicious and intimidating, and for which there is no effective remedy under the law—no fines or penalties, no criminal prosecution, just partial back pay for employees who endure years of litigation to get their jobs back after being fired.
The Senate resolution says:
Congress disapproves the rule submitted by the National Labor Relations Board relating to representation case procedures (published at 79 Fed. Reg. 74308 (December 15, 2014)), and such rule shall have no force or effect.