In case you haven’t been following this, or forgot, the National Labor Relations Board is making new union-representation and union-election rules effective this coming Monday, April 30. Here is the Board’s guidance to regional offices about the rules, with a link to the entire memorandum. And here is an earlier explanation of the rule changes posted by the NLRB that you need to read.
As NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon lays out in the former release, “It is my sincere hope that the new Board rules and this guideline memorandum will save time and resources for both agency staff and the parties who appear before the Board. While these guidelines present challenges with regard to their implementation, they also provide opportunities for us to fully effectuate the policies and purposes of the [National Labor Relations Act], as they relate to the representation process.”
Others don’t see it that way. As labor relations expert and former NLRB agent Jason Greer puts it in this dire warning, “Employers used to have adequate time to educate employees regarding the pros and cons of joining a labor union. Now, they find themselves at a disadvantage because they lack necessary time to respond to assertions made by labor unions.” (That release says the rules will make it easier for unions in America to take over a workforce in as little as five days.)
Meanwhile, here, in their entirety, are the concerns of the National Association of Manufacturers, as sent out Monday the 23rd, one week from “D-day”:
NLRB’s Ambush Elections Would Do Serious and Lasting Harm to Manufacturing Economy
Misguided Rule Threatens Workplace Relations
Washington, D.C., April 23, 2012 – National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Vice President of Policy and Government Relations Aric Newhouse issued a statement in support of S.J. Res. 36, a joint resolution disapproving the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) rule relating to “ambush elections” for unionization.
“On April 30, the NLRB is set to overhaul 75 years of established labor policy with new union election rules that are both unnecessary and misguided. These changes, coupled with additional NLRB proposals that threaten workplace relations, undermine manufacturers’ efforts to create jobs and grow the economy.
Moreover, ‘ambush elections’ are bad news for employees as well. If the NLRB significantly shortens the time before a union election, workers will be less likely to get all the facts essential to making such an important decision. It is critical that this rule is eliminated before it does serious and lasting harm to the American workplace.” You can read the NAM’s key vote letter here.
What say I? I guess the usual: Make sure your house is in order. Make sure you read everything you can and consult with your attorneys. Make sure your employees don’t have good and obvious reasons to organize; i.e., make sure they’re engaged, committed and as happy as can be … or at least make sure you know why they’re not.
Mark B. Goodwin, a Washington- and Richmond, Va.-based member of LeClairRyan’s labor and employment practice team, says it better in this posting, warning that non-union businesses should be training or retraining their managers and supervisors on tactics and strategies aimed at maintaining their non-union status.
“They also need to be preparing their materials, putting them in the can, if you will, so that they are ready if there is a quick election,” says Goodwin. “With the lackluster economy, employers have been trying to keep their costs for prevention programs very low. That is understandable. But given the changes afoot today, businesses need to allocate more time and resources to staying union-free. Otherwise, they run the risk of being penny wise and pound foolish.”
And oh yes, one last suggestion from yours truly: Hang onto your hats.