This past April Fool’s Day, labor relations consultant Phil Wilson raised eyebrows and heart rates with his gag e-mail announcing that the National Labor Relations Board had adopted implemented a new 5-day timetable for union representation elections. Our post the next day:
So, while LRI’s April Fool’s e-mail alert was a well-designed prank on employers and the management bar, none of us should be too shocked to see a very similar e-mail from LRI or others some time in the not too distant future…
We may soon see how distant "not so distant" is. At Wednesday’s hearing before a subcommittee of the House Committee on Appropriations, Board Chairman Wilma Liebman acknowledged the Board is considering engaging in rulemaking to shorten the time frame from the filing of a representation petition to the conduct of an election. As reported by the Chamber of Commerce’s NLRB Insight blog:
Perhaps the most interesting revelation came when Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) asked Chairman Liebman about recent comments by Member Pearce regarding "quick snap" elections. Rep. Kingston’s comments were likely referring to comments Member Pearce made at a conference at Suffolk University Law School in October. As reported by the Daily Labor Report (BNA), Member Pearce said that the Board must seek to hold an election as soon as possible after a petition is filed and that he found the system used in some parts of Canada, where elections are held in as little as 5 to 10 days, "intriguing."
In response, Chairman Liebman noted that while the current median time for elections is 38 days, the Board is giving "active consideration" to conducting rulemaking in this area and that the Board was looking at the various components that are part of the current secret ballot election process. In particular, the Board is considering whether these components are still working and necessary or whether they detract from the effectiveness of conducting elections.
Just a week before, the Chairman told NPR that the current NLRB election process is too long and favors management. During the past few years, proponents of labor law reform like Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), former NLRB Chairman William Gould, and former Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) have advocated a shorter election period.