Former NLRB chairman: Union ‘quickie elections’ will hurt employers

C.J. Ciaramella Contributor
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In a conference call today, former National Labor Relations Board Chairman Peter Schaumber said the “quickie elections” proposed by the NLRB Tuesday will hurt employers and lead to uninformed voters.

On Tuesday the three Democrats on the NLRB proposed sweeping changes to union elections rules that would cut the amount of time for private union elections and reduce what they say are unnecessary delays.

Schaumber, who was appointed to the NLRB in 2002 by President George W. Bush and stepped down in 2009, railed against the proposed rules, saying they will deprive employers the opportunity to express any opposition and deprive employees the chance to make informed decisions.

“The employees will only hear one side of the story,” Schaumber said. “It will eviscerate employers’ chance to respond.”

Schaumber and the lone Republican on the NLRB, Brian E. Hayes, said the rules would result in union elections lasting only 10 to 21 days. Schaumber and Hayes both contend the shorter elections are designed to help unions win representation by hamstringing employers’ ability to argue and file challenges and objections to union tactics during the elections.

However, Democrats and labor groups say the rule changes will streamline a process that allows employers to drag out elections for months, sometimes years.

“These commonsense changes will remove unnecessary delays from the process, cut down on frivolous legal challenges and give workers the right to a fair, up-or-down vote in a reasonable period of time,” Democrat Senator Tom Harkin of Indiana said on the floor of the Senate today. “The new rules don’t encourage unionization, and they don’t discourage it. They just give workers the ability to say yes or no.”

Schaumber also accused the NLRB Democrats of avoiding public input — as well as the input of their one Republican colleague — while crafting the rule. He said the three Democrats never met together and communicated through their offices to avoid triggering federal open meeting law.

“The manner in which the board avoided triggering the Sunshine Act shows to what extent they avoided outside input,” Schaumber said. “Is this the open, transparent, collaborative government we were promised by President Obama?”

The NLRB did not return calls for comment.