On December 12, 2014, a divided National Labor Relations Board issued and adopted a final rule amending its representation–case procedures—which drastically speeds up the union election process. The rule will be published in the Federal Register on December 15, and will take effect on April 14, 2015.
The new rule requires businesses to postpone virtually all litigation over eligibility issues until after workers vote on whether to join the union. The regulation also eliminates a previously-required 25-day period between the time an election is ordered and the election itself, and it requires employers to furnish union organizers with all available personal email addresses and phone numbers of workers eligible to vote in a union election. (The NLRB’s Purple Communications’ decision handed down on December 11, 2014 essentially prohibited employers from denying union organizers access to company email.) The rule also, for the first time, allows for the electronic filing and transmission of union election petitions.
NLRB Board Chairman Mark Gaston and Members Kent Y. Hirozawa and Nancy Schiffer approved the final rule. Board Members Philip A. Miscimarra and Harry I. Johnson III dissented. The rule includes detailed explanations regarding the rule’s impact on current procedures and the views of the majority and dissenting members. The regulatory shift represents a clear victory for a labor movement that has often felt taken for granted by the Obama administration, while a legal challenge from business groups is all but certain.