By Linda H. Evans,
This past week, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) adopted new rules for union representation cases, significantly reducing the period between the filing of a petition and a union election. The final rules will become effective April 14, 2015.
The basic changes include the following:
1) Elections will occur sooner. They currently occur 5-6 weeks after a petition, but under the new rules, the elections could be 14-30 days after the petition is filed;
2) Employers must provide more information about employees and provide it sooner. Currently only name and home addresses are provided and they come later in the process, but under the new rules, within 7 days after a petition is filed, an employer must provide the union with names, work locations, shifts, and job classifications of employees in the proposed voting unit. Two business days after an election is directed, an employer must also provide any employee email address and home and cell phone numbers that the employer has on file;
3) Pre-election hearings will no longer be mandatory, and each regional director will have discretion to determine whether to allow them. This includes postponing eligibility disputes until after the election; and
4) Petitions can be filed and transmitted electronically, and employers will be required to post a notice informing employees that a petition has been filed. The notice must be distributed electronically if the employer customarily uses electronic means to communicate with employees.
Due to the expedited process, employers who are vulnerable to union organizing must focus on year-round avoidance programs rather than waiting until a petition is filed.