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Agencies seek employer counsel disclosures, shorter union petition–election windows

A late-June, National Labor Relations Board-proposed rulemaking would take steps likely cutting the union representation election period from an average of 45–60 days to 10–21 days, according to Washington, D.C.-based Associated Builders & Contractors, while severely limiting an employer’s ability to effectively communicate to workers the impact of unionization.

Three of four NLRB Members noted that proposed amendments to the agency’s election rules and regulations fact sheet “are intended to reduce unnecessary litigation, streamline pre- and post-election procedures, and facilitate the use of electronic communications and document filing.”

Dissenting Member Brian Hayes contends that the proposed rules “will substantially (1) shorten the time between the filing of the petition and the election date, and (2) limit the opportunity for full evidentiary hearing or Board review on contested issues involving appropriate unit, voter eligibility, and election misconduct. The principal purpose for this radical manipulation of our election process is to minimize, or rather, to effectively eviscerate an employer’s legitimate opportunity to express its views about collective bargaining.”

Concurrent with the NLRB move, ABC cites a Department of Labor-proposed rulemaking that would reinterpret what constitutes “persuader” activity under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act. It would subject management attorneys, consultants and perhaps trade associations to what ABC contends are onerous and unnecessary disclosure requirements to the federal government.

“It appears as though the Obama administration’s job creation plan is to force unionization on employers, tell them where they can operate and then hope for the best,” says ABC Vice President of Federal Affairs Geoff Burr. “While this will create a boon in employment for Big Labor bosses, it does nothing for the millions of Americans trying to find jobs to support their families.” 

Equally critical of the NLRB and Labor Department proposals is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “When organized labor failed to pass its top priority, the card check bill, we knew it was only a matter of time before the administration used the regulatory process to tilt the playing field in organized labor’s favor during union campaigns,” said Senior Vice President of Labor, Immigration, and Employee Benefits Randy Johnson in a statement. “The proposed rules by the DOL and the NLRB, coming one day apart, are a blatant attempt to give unions the upper hand by limiting the ability of employers to exercise their free speech rights. Unions already win more than 60 percent of all [NLRB] elections, undermining any argument that current rules are unfair.”