On April 14, 2015, the National Labor Relations Board implemented a rule dramatically changing the process for union representation elections by shortening election times and limiting employees’ opportunity to hear from employers before voting to become unionized.
Union elections under the new “ambush election rules,” as they have been called, are starting to take place in Missouri. On May 1, 2015, a petition was filed to unionize a food ingredient manufacturer in Bridgeton. The election was held on May 21, 2015. In this case, the union filed the petition so that the 25th day, the time limit to hold an election now mandated by the rule, would fall on a holiday. Since an employer is not able to speak to employee groups about the election 24 hours before an election, this cut off 3-4 days the employer could have used to help inform employees leading up to the vote. Despite the reduced time, the union vote was defeated.
However, an automobile parts manufacturer, also in the Bridgeton area, held a union vote in May. The employees voted to become unionized.
In addition to the tight turnaround time now mandated by the rules, employers must also turn over employees’ personal information such as email addresses, phone numbers and addresses. Employers also must file a formal Statement of Position within seven days of a petition and give up their rights to pursue any legal issues not included in the statement.
“Our Firm has already assisted employers on five (5) of those Ambush Elections since April 14. It is definitely not fun for employers. It is extremely disruptive and time consuming. The number of NLRB elections are now significantly higher than the same period last year. The median time according to NLRB statistic from Petition to election is being reported as 23 days. Employers need to take steps to ensure that they are able to communicate effectively with employees prior to any Petition being filed.” According to James N. Foster, Jr., Partner at McMahon Berger, P.C.
For more information on this and other labor issues, contact Brian Bunten, general counsel and director of legislative affairs for the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 573-634-3511.