The National Labor Relations Board issued a ruling on December 12, 2014 that substantially changed procedures for unionization in the US. Fulfilling a long sought after promise to the unions the NLRB has shortened the time to run an election (quickie elections) and given unions access to employee email address they did not have before.
Basically unions have been handed a big advantage in the process of unionization. The NLRB ruling, which will be effective April 14, 2015, made these changes:
- They gave access to company email systems to allow the unions to communicate with employees during an organization campaign.
- They shortened the time an election must be held from a typical 20+ days to just 8 days.
- They took away delays for review of the election process and said all questions and challenges have to be held until after the election.
- Issues will only be considered if they had some effect on the election.
These are significant issues that will radically change the balance of power in elections.
Because unions know when they are starting a campaign and often been working on organizing secretly many months ahead of getting an election; management will be at a significant disadvantage with having to respond and campaign in just eight days. Companies will have little time to respond to the lies their employees have been told.
Rather than me try to explain these changes I am going to refer you to two excellent law firms that do a great job of explaining these changes than I do.
The first is Seyfarth Shaw that deals specifically with the email access changes. In NLRB “Deletes” Employer Email Rule, attorneys Jeffrey A. Berman and Nicholas R. Clements explain what changes were put in place, the impact of these changes and how you can protect your company. They offer suggestions to what you can do with your current email policies and procedures.
The second resources comes from Fisher & Phillips’ legal alert NLRB’s Finalizes Quickie Election Rules for April Implementation’s. They talk about the implication of the several changes put in place in addition to the access to email systems.
Lastly, I direct you to the NLRB itself where it compares and contrasts the rules now with what they will be in their NLRB Representation Case-Procedures Fact Sheet.
What needs to be done
What will need to be done by employers is they will have to be far more alert to employee activities. If there is any suspicion that union activity is occurring you need to be prepared to act immediately. It is best to have a plan in place rather than trying to act from square one.