Saturday, December 14, 2019

Protect our Unions

The Republican-dominated National Labor Relations Board on Friday unveiled a new rule amending its procedures for union elections that, according to at least one progressive think tank, "betrays the workers it is meant to protect."

The primary purpose of the NLRB is to administer the National Labor Relations Act and protect the rights of all workers, regardless of their union membership. One of the federal agency's chief responsibilities is governing the formation of collective-bargaining relationships between private employers and employees.

The NLRB issued the new rule (pdf) without providing notice or taking public comment. The rule is set to take effect 120 days after appearing in the Federal Register; the NLRB expects it to be published on Dec. 18.

Bloomberg reported that the rule will make more than a dozen changes to the board's election procedures, "extending deadlines and adding steps to a process that had been shortened and streamlined during the Obama administration." 

As Celine McNicholas, director of government affairs and labor counsel at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), put it in a statement: 
"This is just the most recent example of the Trump NLRB elevating corporate interests above those of working people."  McNicholas highlighted problems with the current procedures and expressed concerns that the changes will only make it harder for workers who are trying to organize and collectively negotiate with an employer:

"We know that, under the current system, employers are charged with violating the law in 41.5% of all NLRB-supervised elections. Further, employers are charged with illegally firing workers in 20% to 30% of all NLRB-supervised elections. This rule does nothing to address these issues and instead gives employers more time to threaten, coerce, and retaliate against workers trying to organize."

The rule "more than triples the time it will take workers to get from petition to certification in a contested union election. In its 84-year history, the board has never before intentionally added substantial delay to the election process.

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