NLRB Begins Plans for Enforcing New Election Regulations
By John Cerilli
Controversial National Labor Relations Board regulations that will dramatically change union representation election procedures are slated to take effect on April 30, 2012. In anticipation of this event, Board regional offices have been stepping up their internal training efforts and preparing outreach programs to explain the new regulations to the public.
About two weeks prior to the rule’s effective date, the Board’s General Counsel (GC) is expected to post on the NLRB’s website a GC Memorandum, PowerPoint presentation, and video explaining the new regulations. The GC memorandum is expected to explain in more detail which contested issues will result in an evidentiary hearing on the record and which issues will be deferred until after an election. Generally, it is anticipated that issues pertaining to the scope and composition of the proposed bargaining unit generally will result in a hearing, while those pertaining to eligibility that do not affect a significant percentage of the bargaining unit will not. In the latter instances, the hearing officers will defer these issues until after the election. As it stands, which issues will warrant an evidentiary hearing and which will not remain somewhat unclear.
The GC memorandum is also expected to shed light on how hearing officers will handle questions regarding the appropriateness of the bargaining unit itself, which the recent Board decision in Specialty Healthcare addressed.
At this point, the General Counsel has not announced its goal regarding the median length of time that will elapse under the new rules from the date of the filing of a petition to the actual election. Currently, the medium timeframe is 38 days. Some have opined that, under the new regulations, this timeframe will be between 17 and 24 days, although others have suggested that the length of time could be even shorter. Under the new regulations, hearings will be scheduled within 5 working days from the date of service, which will be counted from the day the Regional office mails the petition.
As for the Excelsior list, some have speculated that the General Counsel will consider allowing unions to waive the 10-day period for reviewing the list, which could result in even quicker elections.
As the effective date for the new regulations approaches, more information about how the regulations’ provisions will actually be enforced will be made available. In addition, some Regional NLRB Offices are planning local meetings and trainings to discuss the new regulations.
Photo credit: ericsphotography