GOP Senators Introduce Bill to Reverse NLRB Ambush Elections Rule that Forces Employees to Vote Before They Know What's Going On

Posted on June 15, 2017

Senate labor committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today led 15 Republican senators in introducing legislation that will protect the rights of workers and employers by rolling back the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) controversial ambush election rule.

"The ambush elections rule forces union elections in as little as 11 days—before an employer and many employees even have a chance to figure out what is going on,” said Alexander. “The rule also threatens workers’ privacy by providing union organizers with employees’ information like their cell phone number and work schedules, even if they’ve chosen to reject the union. This bill would give workers the time they need gather all the facts to make a fully informed decision in a union election."

“Under the Obama administration, the National Labor Relations Board ran amok, tilting the playing field in favor of unions time and again, regardless of the long-term consequences to hardworking Americans,” said Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety Chairman Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.). “I have fought this rule from the beginning, and I’m reintroducing this legislation in hopes that under our Republican Congress, which has worked so hard to restore our economy and unleash the opportunity for growth, we will make greater progress in undoing this harmful rule and help restore a traditional level playing field.” 

Alexander and Isakson were joined by 13 senators, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Sens. John Boozman (R-Ark.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), James Lankford (R- Okla.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), John Thune (R-S.D.), and Todd Young (R-Ind.).

Background: The ambush election rule, which went into effect in April 2015, provides employers only seven days to find legal counsel and appear before an NLRB regional officer at a pre-election hearing. During those seven days, employers must identify every legal concern or basically forfeit the ability to raise additional concerns during the course of the hearing. The rule also delays answers to important questions, including voter eligibility, until after the election has occurred. Finally, the rule jeopardizes worker privacy by providing employees’ names, home and email addresses, work schedules, phone numbers, and other personal information to union organizers.

As a result of these changes, union elections could occur in as few as 11 days, providing employers little time to communicate with their employees, undermining the ability of workers to make an informed decision, and compromising worker privacy.

The Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act (S.1350) would:

  • Guarantee workers have time to gather all the facts to make a fully informed decision in a union election. No union election will be held in less than 35 days.
  • Ensure employers are able to participate in a fair union election process. The bill provides employers at least 14 days to prepare their case to present before a NLRB election officer and protects their right to raise additional concerns throughout the pre-election hearing.
  • Reassert the board’s responsibility to address critical issues before a union is allowed to represent workers. The board must determine the appropriate group of employees to include in the union before the union is certified, as well as address any questions of voter eligibility.
  • Empower workers to control the disclosure of their personal information. Employers would have at least seven days to provide a list of employee names and one additional piece of contact information chosen by each individual employee.

In 2015, the Senate and House of Representatives passed a Congressional Review Act resolution to stop the ambush election rule, which was vetoed by President Obama. 

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