Businesses Face Defeat, Judge Sides With Federal Rule That Unions Love

In a major defeat for businesses, a federal judge in Texas dismissed a lawsuit Monday against the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for speeding up union elections.

Back in January, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and the Associated Builders and Contractors sued the NLRB for the proposed rule change, claiming it benefited unions at the expense of employers and their workers. The hope was to overturn the rule, but the lawsuit was stopped in its tracks and tossed aside.

“We are deeply disappointed by the Texas court ruling and we plan to appeal the decision,” Karen Harned, the executive director of the NFIB Small Business Legal Center, said in a statement.

The new union election procedure, dubbed the “ambush election” rule by opponents, drastically shortened the length of time in which a union certification election must be held from a median of 38 days to as little as 11 days.

“If this ruling stands, small businesses — which typically do not have in-house labor counsel — will have very little time to make preparations for a union election,” Harned continued. “It could take 10 days just to find a labor lawyer and get a meeting. They would have very little time to educate their employees on how unionization could affect them, including the impact of union dues on their paychecks.”

Critics have accused the NLRB of purposely making rules in an effort to benefit unions. The worries of bias have gotten so bad that the Senate majority leader, Republican Mitch McConnell, introduced the NLRB Reform Act in an effort to address the problem.

“The ambush election is a very badly disguised effort on the part of the federal government to rig the outcome of union elections in favor of organized labor and we don’t believe it’s legal,” Harned added.

It’s not just business groups that have opposed the NLRB on the issue. In March, Senate and House Republicans voted on a resolution to overturn the rule. President Barack Obama, however, was quick to veto it.

Fortunately for critics, a similar lawsuit by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, along with the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, National Association of Manufacturers, National Retail Federation, and Society for Human Resource Management, filed back in January with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia is still pending.

Labor board officials have defended the new rule by noting it will help streamline the process for resolving representation disputes.

“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 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.”

The rule was approved by board members Pearce, Kent Hirozawa and Nancy Schiffer with Philip Miscimarra and Harry Johnson III dissenting.

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