Obama’s Disputed Union Election Rule Survives Appeal


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The circuit court of appeals upheld a rule Friday that speeds up the amount of time union elections are held, though critics argue this unfairly benefits labor groups.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) argued its new election rule is designed to streamline and modernize union elections. The Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), however, argued in its lawsuit the rule doesn’t leave workers enough time to understand the impact of unionizing. The rule makes the union election process go from a median of 38 days to about 11 days.

“The Board identified evidence that elections were being unnecessarily delayed by litigation,” the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals said in its decision. “Because the Board acted rationally and in furtherance of its congressional mandate in adopting the rule, the ABC entities’ challenge to the rule as a whole fails.”

A Texas federal judge dismissed the lawsuit June 2015, which prompted opponents to seek help from the appeals court. The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (NRTW) among other critics warn the rule doesn’t leave workers enough time to fully understand what joining a union entails.

“These rules are designed to dramatically shorten the amount of time employees have to share information with their coworkers about the pros and cons of unionization,” NRTW President Mark Mix said in a statement. “They also require employers to hand over workers’ private information.”

Employers are also required to submit the personal phone numbers and email addresses of their employees — labor unions then gain the right to review the information. Those opposed, note concern the use of private contact information will allow unions to more easily target individuals during unionizing campaigns. It could also leave them open to harassment.

“It forces employers to hand over workers’ email and phone numbers to union organizers without an option to opt out,” Competitive Enterprise Institute Labor Policy Expert Trey Kovacs said in a statement provided to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Americans value their privacy, and government agencies should heavily weight private citizens’ right to privacy in rulemaking decisions.”

The Labor Relations Institute looked at how the rule has impacted union elections since it was established in April 2015. The report found unions experience more wins as the time it takes to hold an election decreases. The Republican-controlled Congress tried to prevent the rule with a resolution, but it was vetoed by President Barack Obama.

“I am heartened that the Board has chosen to enact amendments that will modernize the representation case process and fulfill the promise of the National Labor Relations Act,” NLRB Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce said in a 2014 statement. “Simplifying and streamlining the process will result in improvements for all parties. With these changes, the Board strives to ensure that its representation process remains a model of fairness and efficiency for all.”

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