Following President Obama’s reelection victory, employers can expect an acceleration of the National Labor Relations Board’s efforts to make union organizing easier. Over the past few years, the NLRB has used both Board decisions and administrative rulemaking to broaden its impact and make it easier for unions to organize workers. In particular, the Notice of Employee Rights posting requirement (which is currently pending review), the expedited election rule (which is expected to be reissued), and bargaining unit composition changes will all work together to increase the pressure of unionization on employers.
The Board’s aggressive, employee-friendly agenda will no doubt continue in 2013. According to the Associated Press, the NLRB is showing renewed interest in introducing regulation that would force businesses to turn over workers’ phone numbers, emails, and shift times to union organizers. Presently, companies must turn over a list of names and addresses of all eligible bargaining unit employees only after a union election has been directed by the NLRB. This drastic divergence from the current practice will make it much easier for unions to organize workers at the expense of the worker’s right to privacy.
Finally, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has said that unions would demand card-check legislation from Obama during his second term. With card-check, if the NLRB verifies that over 50 percent of employees signed authorization cards, the secret ballot election is bypassed and a union is automatically formed.
While legislative gridlock may remain as the balance of power in Washington effectively stayed the same following the 2012 election, it is clear that the Obama Administration will likely continue using federal agencies to achieve its labor agenda and make union organizing easier in 2013 and beyond. MSEC will continue to track these issues and inform members of any developments.