Pro-Union Labor Law Developments Emerging from Obama Administration

​The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) are introducing significant new rules that would give unions more tools to organize employees of private employers. 

The NLRB proposed new rules that would make the process for unions to petition to represent employees easier and more streamlined. The petitioning union would be able to file documents electronically and receive more compliance assistance from NLRB staff. Representation hearings, which are held to determine the voting unit, would be set and the parties would have to state the issues before the hearing rather wait for an administrative law judge to frame the issues. Lists of employees would have to be provided by the employer to the union earlier in the process. Lists would include employee phone numbers and email addresses and the deadline to produce the lists would be reduced from 7 to 2 days. The proposed rules would also expedite elections. Currently, the NLRB uses a 42-day maximum as a guideline. The average time for elections to be held after the filing of a petition is actually about 38 days. The NLRB would like to cut that time significantly to within 18 to 23 days. 

Unions have been trying unsuccessfully for years to get favorable legislation passed to prevent employers from exercising their right to communicate with their employees about such an important topic as unions. The best example of this is the aborted Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). Many feel that the pro-union members of the NLRB are trying to accomplish through rule making what they couldn’t accomplish through the legislative process. Other initiatives various groups have put forward include requiring employers to recognize minority unions and the DOL has proposed a new rule requiring employers to disclose the names of consultants who help them respond to union campaigns.
We will be following these initiatives with great interest and will keep you informed.