The National Retail Federation, an industry trade group, is joining a growing push for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to review an Obama-era law undercutting companies’ ability to resist unions.
Under former President Barack Obama, the NLRB finalized a rule significantly shortening the amount of time between a union petition to represent a business’s workforce and a union election. The rule was implemented after a Congressional resolution to end it was vetoed by Obama.
President Donald Trump’s labor board, tasked with monitoring union elections and settling workplace disputes, may revisit the “ambush” ruling, a proposition cheered by management attorneys and trade groups, The Washington Free Beacon reports.
“This is one of the most unnecessary rules to come from the previous NLRB, and it is substantially undermining the principle of fair union elections. Workers have been denied the opportunity to hear from both sides of the debate and have lost their right to privacy,” NRF spokesman David French said according to The Free Beacon. “We urge the NLRB to rescind this rule or, at the very least, make significant changes to restore the basic rights of workers and employers in union elections.”
The Obama rule cut the average time for a union election to take place from 38 days, before the rule was passed in 2014, to 23 days in 2017. Out of hundreds of elections each year, unions win 67 percent of the time versus 64 percent of the time in 2013. Unions tended to win elections before the rule because they rarely petition for elections that cannot be won, according to The Free Beacon.
Obama supported the rule arguing “workers need a strong voice in the workplace and the economy to protect and grow our nation’s middle class,” Obama wrote in a Memorandum of Disapproval after he vetoed Congress’s effort to repeal it.
“Workers deserve a level playing field that lets them freely choose to make their voices heard, and this requires fair and streamlined procedures for determining whether to have unions as their bargaining representative,” Obama added.
Critics of the rule dispute Obama’s claim that the rule gives workers more power in a decision to unionize, saying exactly the opposite is true. Workers vote for union representation and mandatory fees without hearing an adequate case from the business, forced to compile facts and an argument on an expedited timeline.
“The NLRB’s new ambush election rule forces a union election in a little as 11 days— before an employer and most employees even have a chance to figure out what is going on,” GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate labor committee, said after Obama’s veto. “I’m disappointed the president wasted this opportunity to prevent the board’s rule from infringing on every employee’s right to privacy and every employer’s right to free speech.”
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