Weekly Column by Lamar Alexander: Stopping NLRB ‘Ambush Elections’ Rule

Posted on March 6, 2015

This week, the Senate took an important step to stopping a harmful rule that would take away employers’ right to free speech and jeopardize employees’ right to privacy.

The Senate passed a Congressional Review Act joint resolution that I introduced along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) to stop the National Labor Relations Board, or NLRB, from implementing its “ambush elections” rule.

Last December, the NLRB issued a final rule that shortened the time between when pro-union organizers ask an employer for a secret ballot election and when that election actually takes place. I refer to this as the “ambush election rule,” because it forces a union election to occur in as few as 11 days—before the employer and its employees have time to figure out what is going on. Even worse, it jeopardizes employees’ privacy by requiring employers to turn over employees’ personal information.

If there ever was an example of unfairness and tipping the balance in a single direction, it would be the ambush election rule.

The ambush election rule is unfair to employers. It forces them to have a union election before they can figure out what is going on. It is unfair to employees, requiring them to vote in a union election before they have a chance to hear both sides.

Our privacy is assaulted from every side. Employees are losing their privacy, because the rule requires employers to hand over employees’ personal email addresses, phone numbers, shift hours, locations, and job classifications to union organizers.

The rule is part of the NLRB’s attempt to become more of an advocate than an umpire. The National Labor Relations Board was established to be an impartial umpire in labor disputes, but has grown into an advocate—a trend that has worsened under this president.

That is why Senator McConnell and I have introduced legislation to stop this trend. Under our bill, the NLRB would be composed of three Democrats and three Republicans. If the general counsel's complaint is outside the law, the aggrieved party can take it to federal court. If the NLRB takes longer than one year to decide a case, either party can take it to federal court. That is the kind of umpire we need in labor relations today.

This is about moving up the economic ladder. This is about the hundreds of thousands of Americans, who do not need to be ambushed as they try to earn a living, pay their bills, sweep the floor, make a profit, pay employees, and create the American dream.

The stakes are high. We are right to say let’s return the NLRB to an umpire. I hope the House agrees with us. I hope the president will agree with us on that. It’s time to return fairness and balance to labor-management relations in this country.