THE CHANGE: Earlier this morning, the NLRB revived its proposed amendments to the representation election procedures that would dramatically cut down the time between a union representation petition and the actual union vote by employees.
The proposed amendments include the following recommended changes:
Allow for electronic filing and transmission of election petitions and other documents.
Include phone numbers and e-mail addresses in voter lists so that parties to the election can communicate with voters via modern technology.
Consolidate all election-related appeals to the board into a single postelection appeals process.
Streamline pre- and postelection procedures to facilitate agreement and eliminate unnecessary litigation.
THE IMPACT: The time between when the Union files its representation petition and the actual vote by employees will be drastically shortened from the current 42-day average to as few as 10 days.
THE REASON IT MATTERS: During the (soon-to-be-shortened) election campaign period, employers are able to provide employees with accurate information regarding unionization as well as respond to information provided to the employees by the union. The more time an employer has to provide such information, the more likely that the employer will win the election. Cutting the period down to as few as 10 days will severely hamstring an employer's ability to provide employees with information during the campaign and will materially increase the likelihood that an unprepared employer is unionized. There is absolutely no doubt that the new regulations will blow new life into union their organizing efforts.
WHAT EMPLOYERS CAN DO: Because the election period will be shortened, it is even more critical that employers make certain that they are not vulnerable to union organization. It is often said, "unions don't organize employers, employers organize themselves." In other words, employers who don't take the steps to ensure they are employing sound personnel practices, treating employees fairly and preparing for union organizing attempts, likely will lose a union organizing campaign. Now, more than ever, employers need to take a time-out and carefully evaluate their readiness.