Appellate Court rejects challenge to union-tailored ‘ambush’ election rule

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision rejecting an Associated Builders & Contractors challenge to the National Labor Relations Board’s controversial “ambush” election final rule. ABC General Counsel Maury Baskin of Littler Mendelson P.C. in Washington, D.C., argued the case on behalf of ABC of Texas, the Central Texas Chapter of ABC, and National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Texas earlier this year in New Orleans.

“ABC is disappointed with the decision,” says Vice President of Regulatory, Labor and State Affairs Ben Brubeck. “By affording excessive discretion to Regional Directors, the NLRB made it very difficult to mount a successful facial challenge to the new rule. However, we are exploring our appeal options and, depending on how that discretion is exercised, an “as-applied” challenge on a case-by-case basis may also [prove] successful.

“ABC is prepared to assist members challenging this failed NLRB policy, which is designed to suppress employers’ voices during union organizing campaigns. That is unfair not only to employers but also to employees who deserve the opportunity to hear from both sides and make a well-informed decision on whether or not to join a labor union.”

Dubbed Representation-Case Procedures, the rule went into effect in April 2015, and overhauls the unionization path by shortening the amount of time between when a labor organization files a representation petition and an election takes place. The rule decreased the average time to election to 28 days, compared to an average of 38 days prior to it being finalized. In addition, Representation-Case Procedures shortens the amount of time an employer is allotted to provide a list of eligible voters and adds to the amount of personal contact information that must be disclosed to unions.

In January 2015, ABC and NFIB Texas filed suit in the Western District of Texas federal court challenging the new election rules. The court upheld the rule in June 2015, prompting action by ABC and NFIB Texas in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. ABC has consistently opposed the NLRB’s ambush election rule. Along with more than 1,200 members, it filed comments in April 2014 requesting the NLRB withdraw the controversial rule. The ABC-led Coalition for a Democratic Workplace also filed comments and was joined by more than 140 local organizations, including more than 40 ABC chapters. Following the issuance of the final rule, ABC created a rapid response toolkit to help association members deal with union organizing. In addition, ABC distributed 6,000-plus pocket guides to more than 50 chapters for distribution to membership.