Merit shop contractors, business interests stare down ‘ambush’ election catalysts

Sources: Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, Associated Builders & Contractors, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Washington, D.C.; CP staff

The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, representing a wide range of business groups—National Precast Concrete Association, National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, Portland Cement Association and American Concrete Pressure Pipe Association among them—will challenge the NLRB Representation-Case Procedures rule in federal courts, arguing the agency’s action “paves the way for unfair and illegal ‘ambush’ elections.”

“The rule is designed to prevent employees from gathering the facts before they cast a ballot for or against union representation,” says CDW Legal Strategist Josh Ullman. “[It] is yet another attempt by this agency to push the agenda of large labor unions at the expense of employees and employers. Time and again, the one-sided agenda of the president and his NLRB has been beaten back in court, and CDW will again look to protect millions of American workplaces by seeking redress through a lawsuit.”

“The ambush rule further demonstrates the Board’s shift from neutral arbiter of labor law to cheerleader for big labor,” adds Associated Builders & Contractors Vice President of Government Affairs Geoff Burr. “ABC opposes this erosion of workplace and privacy rights, which will lead to the unsolicited distribution of employees’ personal contact information and drastically shorten the period of time between when a petition is filed and representation election held. We will continue to lead the fight against ambush elections through every available avenue.”

ABC has consistently cited NLRB-proposed changes as unfair to employers and employees, he adds, and raised privacy concerns over distribution of employees’ personal contact information. The association and 1,200-plus members filed comments earlier this year requesting the agency withdraw proposed Representation-Case Procedures amendments.

The final rule is one of two union-friendly measures with which the NLRB is closing out 2014, according to the Competitive Enterprise Institute. In its Purple Communications ruling the day prior to adopting Procedures amendments, the Board held that employees can use company e-mail systems to circulate union materials, reasoning that today’s workplace is “the natural gathering place” for communications and e-mail the common form of dialogue.

Representation-Case Procedures and Purple Communications are “aimed at benefiting Big Labor at the expense of business and worker interests,” contends CEI Senior Fellow Aloysius Hogan. “These latest NLRB maneuvers are part of President Obama’s “‘pen-and-phone’ strategy to advance a pro-union agenda. Under new [Representation] rules … union elections will take place in as few as 10 days from the request to unionize. That will effectively ambush businesses and employees who are left without time to discuss the downsides and tradeoffs of unionization.”

Representation-Case Procedures expands organized labor’s power, explains Hogan, “By giving it access to company e-mail exchanges for union business. [It] infringes on worker privacy by requiring employers to provide unions with workers’ contact information—including phone numbers and e-mail addresses—before the union has won representation over the workplace.”