Labor board’s ‘quickie election’ rule attracts nearly unprecedented public heat

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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The National Labor Relations Board’s “quickie election” proposal has received a nearly unprecedented backlash from Americans nationwide.

If the NLRB finalizes its proposed rule, the time between when union organizers file a petition and when an election takes place would be shortened to just 7–10 days. Traditionally, unionizing elections are held up to six weeks after organizers meet the petition requirements for one.

But since the Board published its proposed rule change in the Federal Register on June 22, more than 17,000 public comments have come in. Most of them are critical of the proposal. Members of the public can comment through August 22.

Though some public comments are undoubtedly from advocacy groups and organizations with a financial stake in the battle’s outcome, thousands seem to have come from ordinary Americans.

“We now have 17,000 Americans on the record essentially agreeing with President Obama: that the job-killing agencies in his administration need to stop wrecking the economy with new anti-business, anti-jobs regulations,” Fred Wszolek of the Workforce Fairness Institute told The Daily Caller.

Wszolek is referring to Obama’s promise to control federal agency regulations so they don’t have a negative effect on the economy.

Former NLRB board member Peter Schaumber told TheDC that a spike in the public’s interest and involvement in these rule changes may be a referendum against how this Board is breaking from tradition in its policy development. Schaumber says the only other instance he knows of a similar level of public concern about NLRB issues was a 1974 amendment to the National Labor Relations Act that broadened its scope to include private health care institutions.

He said about 20,000 people sent in public comments then, but Americans had two full years to weigh in.

“The NLRB generally establishes labor policy with [courtroom] decisions,” Schaumber said in a phone interview. “Engaging in rulemaking is an unusual activity for the board.”

Another red flag that Schaumber notices with the Board’s handling of its “quickie election” proposal is the lack of transparency in the NLRB’s deliberations. Schaumber says it appears as though the Board’s members evaded the Sunshine Act, either by meeting only two at a time or by using staffers to relay information among themselves.

Schaumber points out that there are three Democratic NLRB members and only one Republican, and that the Sunshine Act requires that meetings of more than two NLRB members must be published and at least somewhat open to the public. No meetings were ever announced while the NLRB was planning the proposal.

He also says the Board appears to be rushing to finalize its new policy before more Americans can flood the government with disagreeable comments. “It started as a very non-transparent process,” he said. “And now it’s a very expedited public process.”