This morning, the National Labor Relations Board announced proposed new rules intended to remove some bureaucratic hurdles to conducting fair and timely union elections. Steven Greenhouse of the New York Times reports:
The labor board is proposing to tighten up the process by ensuring that employers, employees and unions receive needed information sooner and by delaying litigation over many voter-eligibility issues until after workers vote on whether to unionize…
Unions have long complained that it takes too many weeks from when they petition for an election to when a secret-ballot election is held, saying that gives management too much time to mount an aggressive campaign with videos and one-and-one sessions with workers.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka called the NLRB proposal “a modest step to remove roadblocks and reduce unnecessary and costly litigation.” Here is a statement released this morning by Trumka:
Although we are still reviewing the proposed new changes from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), they appear to represent a common sense approach to clean up an outdated system and help ensure that working women and men can make their own choice about whether to form a union.
When workers want to vote on a union, they should get a fair chance to vote. That’s a basic right. But our current system has become a broken, bureaucratic maze that stalls and stymies workers’ choices. And that diminishes the voice of working people, creates imbalance in our economy and shrinks the middle class.
With the proposal of these new standards, the Board is taking a modest step to remove roadblocks and reduce unnecessary and costly litigation—and that’s good news for employers as well as employees. The proposed rule does not address many of the fundamental problems with our labor laws, but it will help bring critically needed fairness and balance to this part of the process.
Unfortunately, in today’s poisonous political environment, any action by the Board may unleash a torrent of attacks from politicians and ideologues opposed to any protection of workers’ rights. We call on leaders from both sides of the aisle to defend the independence of the NLRB. Political interference with any independent agency sets a dangerous precedent that should not be tolerated.
The NLRB expects more howls of indignation from the usual suspects over this modest proposal.
“It is fair to predict that the new proposals will be controversial,” said NLRB Chairwoman Wilma Liebman. “That controversy is unfortunate, but it is not a good reason for the board to abandon its responsibilities.”
The same politicians and pundits who attempt to undermine anything this independent agency does on behalf of workers — including protecting and preserving the right to strike without employer retaliation — will begin their howls of protest… now.