Labor Board Allows More Time to Weigh In on Union Election Rules

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By Hassan A. Kanu and Chris Opfer

The federal labor board plans to extend the deadline for public comments on whether to nix an Obama-era rule that speeds the process for workers to go from organizing efforts to a union election vote, sources close to the process tell Bloomberg Law.

The National Labor Relations Board has granted the AFL-CIO’s request to extend for a second time—to April 18—the deadline for public comment on the regulation, Craig Becker, the union’s general counsel, told Bloomberg Law. Other sources confirmed that the 30-day extension is in the works.

The NLRB officially announced the extension March 14.

A number of prominent employer-side groups, including the Chamber of Commerce and the International Franchise Association, made a similar request for an even longer extension but were denied, according to Michael Lotito, co-chair of Littler Mendelson’s government affairs shop on labor issues.

A new Republican majority board said late last year that it would reconsider the rule, which was intended to streamline the union election process. Obama administration critics slammed the regulation—tagging it the “quickie” or “ambush” election rule—as tipping the scales in favor of unions by imposing timelines that are too short for workers to make an educated decision. Unions say the rules stop businesses from using stalling tactics to sink elections.

Although the average timeline for a union election has sped up since the rule took effect in 2015, studies show union win rates in those elections have largely remained unchanged.

The Chamber and other business asked for a 60-day extension to have more time to consider the impact of the 2015 rule and how it might be updated. Supporters of the rule, including NLRB Democratic members Lauren McFerran and Mark Gaston Pearce, say the regulation has not been in effect long enough to gauge its effect on labor organizing.

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