Some of you may have received an e-mail alert yesterday from labor consultant Phil Wilson at LRI with the Subject line “Breaking News: NLRB Implements 5-Day Elections.” This was enough to raise the heart rates of many labor professionals around the country. The body of the email explained that the NLRB’s Representation Casehandling Manual was being changed “to shrink the target date for RC elections from the current 42-day period down to a 5-day target.” The email’s “link” to the new manual told readers that it was all an April Fool’s trick from LRI. Management and its labor advisors breathed a sigh of relief. But was that relief premature?
The idea of quicker elections is not new. Critics of current Board procedure often complain that the 42 day election period is too long and allows management to intimidate voters. Expedited elections were one of many alternatives to EFCA put forth by proponents of labor law reform. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) floated a 21 day election deadline as a potential compromise to EFCA. Former NLRB Chairman William Gould has also advocated a 21 day election period. And former Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) often advocated a shorter election period as one component of labor law reform.
As the debate over EFCA cooled, the number of people discussing changes to the NLRB election process had dwindled. But it has not vanished completely. Just a day before LRI’s gag e-mail, NLRB Chairman Wilma Liebman said in an interview that the current NLRB election process is too long and favors management.
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…