On February 4th, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced revisions to certain labor representation rules that would significantly impact both nonunionized and unionized manufacturers.  Although these rules are proposed and not considered final, manufacturing companies should pay close attention as the agency rulemaking process moves forward this year.

The revisions that the NLRB is proposing would:

  • allow for electronic filing and transmission of election petitions and other documents;
  • shorten the timetable for the exchange of employee information and include employee telephone numbers in voter lists;
  • eliminate significant procedures to challenge the composition of the bargaining unit prior to an election and consolidate all election-related appeals to the Board into a single post-election appeals process.

Currently, most union elections take place within 56 days of the union election petition being filed by a labor union, and the median timeframe for these elections is 38 days. The NLRB is proposing to limit the timeframe to speed up this process to approximately two weeks after a union election petition has been filed. This proposal is significant to manufacturers because the time between the date the petition is filed and the date of the election is often the only time a company has to educate its employees about unions and to express its views regarding unionization.  By shortening the election timetable, companies are deprived of the time necessary to fairly present both sides of the representation question to employees, and employees may not have sufficient time to seriously weigh important considerations regarding union representation before an election vote.

The proposed rules also shorten the time during which employers must submit to labor unions electronic lists of employees after an election petition has been filed and require employers to provide unions with employee telephone numbers, as well as their addresses. Thus, unions gain more access to employees for campaigning during an election.

In addition, the NLRB is proposing to limit the avenues by which challenges to union elections may be filed.  Thus, it is even more critical to have a plan in place for such union campaigns in advance of a petition being filed. 

Manufacturers are encouraged to submit comments on the proposed changes. The deadline for comments is April 7, 2014. Details on how to submit comments are set forth in the NPRM.

Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions or feedback on these proposed rules.