The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently came up with new rules and regulations on how it was going to proceed with elections. Since its formation nearly a century ago, the primary mandate of the Board has been to provide a framework for which employees in the United States can vote to determine whether they want to be represented by their respective labor unions. This Board also gives employees the power to decertify established unions. In December 2014, the board outlined new rules that were supposed to come into effect four months later, i.e. mid-April 2015.
The change of regulations has attracted intense debate ever since. Business groups in cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce have not hidden their displeasure with these new regulations. Many Republican lawmakers have also opposed the change of regulations by the board. From a legal and technical standpoint, the Board should not have effected these changes because they not only infringe on the rights of free speech of employers in the United States but also violate the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) of 1935.
The new regulations are technically unfair because they do not give employers enough time to deliberate and respond to actions by a union planning for campaign and elections. The new regulations give unions and employees the opportunity to ambush employers with quickie elections. For instance, the new rules only gives employers just one business day to disclose or present a list of potential voters before a hearing attended by the board’s regional director and union on pre-elections. The new regulations also require employers to prepare an electronic voter register (voting list) within two business days from the moment the Board calls for an election (NLRB, 2015: p. 26). These two events are too rushed and deny the employers their right to free speech, which may allow them to negotiate with the union and its members in case of a disagreement.
With such regulations, the Board has pushed employers in a position where they must always be prepared for impromptu campaigns and elections. According to an article posted on Spencer Fane, a law blog, the new rules forces employers to always be prepared for elections and be watchful for any indications of possible union grouping. They must also be proactive to ensure that they thwart efforts by unions before they become effective.
According to Dube (2015), opponents of the law have also argued that the new regulations proposed by the Board go against the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) of 1935. The Act grants employees in the private sector to form and belong in trade unions. It also grants the right to collectively bargain for better employment and work terms and the right to stage strikes. These new regulations put the employers in an awkward position where they conflict with the rights of employees to belong to unions and go on strikes. As stated above, the new regulations encourage employers to be vigilant on possible organization of employees into unions because such organizations may result in impromptu elections. To be proactive, employers might come up with highhanded strategies for monitoring their employees to watch for signs of union organization.
Such may involve designing company policies that encourage consistent supervision of employees so that they do not organize in unions. Clearly, this will contradict the NLRA Act that grants employees the right to belong to unions. The new regulations will render employees powerless because employers will handle them on a personal basis. As Carrell & Heavrin (2013) state, employees can only make effective demands when they belong to unions, as unions grant them collective bargaining powers with employers.