Conservative Media Leap To Demonize NLRB's Changes To Rules On Unionizing


The right-wing media have vilified a proposal by the National Labor Relations Board to change rules regarding union organizing elections, accusing the NLRB of trying to establish "quickie elections." In fact, the proposal would establish no time frame for holding elections, and it modernizes procedures before and after elections.

Right-Wing Media Claim NLRB Is Trying To Establish "Quickie Elections" To Allow Unions To Do "Instant Organizing"

NRO's Kirsanow: "NLRB's Proposed Rules Would Implement 'Quickie Elections." Former NLRB member Peter Kirsanow wrote in a post on the National Review Online blog The Corner:

In a nutshell, the NLRB's proposed rules would implement "quickie elections," a process that would allow unions to organize a workplace as easily as they could have had the Employee Free Choice Act (also known as "card check") passed.


Yet the "quickie election" rules proposed by the NLRB will shorten the time frame to a mere 10-20 days. Make absolutely no mistake: That's not enough time for even the largest and most sophisticated employers to counter what the union has been telling employees while organizing them for the last 6-8 months. The union win rate will far exceed 68 percent. [National Review Online, The Corner, 6/21/11]

Fox Guest Hanretty: "This Would Absolutely Allow Unions To Do Instant Organizing." On Happening Now, former National Republican Congressional Committee communications director Karen Hanretty said:

HANRETTY: You know, this would absolutely allow unions to do instant organizing. So, in other words, they could take months of preparation to organize and hold a vote without the employer even knowing, without the employer even having the opportunity to wage their own campaign. [Fox News, Happening Now, 6/22/11]

WSJ Editorial: NLRB "Delivered A Plan For 'Quickie' Union Elections Designed To Make Organizing Easier." From a Wall Street Journal editorial headlined "The Union 'Quickie' ":

When Big Labor failed to persuade even a Democratic Congress to pass "card check" legislation, it turned to Plan B: the National Labor Relations Board, which yesterday delivered a plan for "quickie" union elections designed to make organizing easier. [The Wall Street Journal, 6/22/11]

Heritage Foundation Analyst At NRO: "The NLRB's Proposed Snap Elections" Are "Another Case Of The Obama Administration Putting Unions Ahead Of Workers." In a post on The Corner, Heritage Foundation Senior Policy Analyst James Sherk wrote:

The NLRB's proposed snap elections, which Peter Kirsanow described here yesterday, are another case of the Obama administration putting unions ahead of workers. Unionization has plummeted in the private sector because very few workers want to join. Unions want to reverse that trend by denying employees an informed choice. [National Review Online, 6/22/11]

In Fact, Proposal Would Establish No Time Frame For Elections

CAP's Madland: Rule Doesn't Specify Time Frame, Addresses "Roadblocks That Commonly Are Thrown Up When The NLRB Attempts To Set Up An Election." David Madland, director of the Center for American Progress' American Worker Project, wrote:

The proposed rule announced today by the National Labor Relations Board to create a standard process for union elections is an important step toward giving workers a fairer way to choose whether to form a union. The rule would reform an election process that far too often resembles Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown's foot just as he begins his kick, with scheduled elections frequently delayed or canceled and workers left flat on their backs.

This common sense proposal would standardize an inconsistent election process. The NLRB is correct when it says the proposed rule would "reduce unnecessary litigation, streamline pre- and post-election procedures, and facilitate the use of electronic communications and document filing." The proposed rule does not specify a specific time frame for elections, but rather recommends a number of changes that would help put an end to delay tactics used by employers or unions, creating a more level playing field, ensuring stability and fairness for all parties, and reducing confrontation in the workplace.


The proposed rule would address the roadblocks that commonly are thrown up when the NLRB attempts to set up an election. There is currently no limit on employers' or unions' ability to demand a pre-election hearing on most any issue, including the eligibility of employees to vote, or the scope of the bargaining unit, which can be used to delay an election. Many of these issues could be resolved after voting, and others are manufactured for purposes of delay and don't need to be resolved at all, ever. As former NLRB General Counsel Fred Feinstein explains, "The problem has been that a party in any election case has the ability to undermine the expression of employee free choice by manipulating Board procedures to create delay." [, 6/21/11]

NLRB: New Rules Would Eliminate A Review Process That "Almost Never Result In A Stay Of The Election." From the NLRB's "fact sheet" on the proposed changes:

Current procedures:

Elections routinely are delayed 25-30 days to allow parties to seek Board review of Regional Director rulings even though such requests are rarely filed, even more rarely granted, and almost never result in a stay of the election.

Proposed procedures:

The pre-election request for review would be eliminated, along with the unnecessary delay. [, accessed 6/22/11]

NLRB: Current Rules Encourage "Pre-Election Litigation" Over Issues That "Ultimately May Not Need To Be Resolved." From the NLRB fact sheet:

Current procedures:

Encourages pre-election litigation over voter-eligibility issues that need not be resolved in order to determine if an election is necessary and that may not affect the outcome of the election and thus ultimately may not need to be resolved.

Proposed procedures:

The parties could choose not to raise such issues at the pre-election hearing but rather via the challenge procedure during the election. Litigation of eligibility issues raised by the parties involving less than 20 per cent of the bargaining unit would be deferred until after the election. [, accessed 6/22/11]

NLRB: New Rules Would Require Parties To State Their Positions At Outset Of Hearings. From the NLRB fact sheet:

Current procedures:

In contrast to federal court rules, the board's current procedures have no mechanism for quickly identifying what issues are in dispute to avoid wasteful litigation and encourage agreements.

Proposed procedures:

The parties would be required to state their positions no later than the start of the hearing, before any other evidence is accepted. The proposed amendments would ensure that hearings are limited to issues resolving genuine disputes. [, accessed 6/22/11]

Right-Wing Media Say Unions Already Win Nearly Two-Thirds Of Elections ...

Wash. Examiner: "Apparently, The Big Labor Bosses Aren't Satisfied With Winning More Than 60 Percent Of Workplace Representation Elections In Recent Years." From a Washington Examiner editorial:

The new workplace representation election rules are needed to "remove unnecessary barriers to the fair and expeditious resolution of questions concerning representation," according to the NLRB. Unions want the NLRB to severely limit or kill management's ability to oppose unionization before representation elections and to expose abusive campaign practices by union thugs after workers vote. Apparently, the Big Labor bosses aren't satisfied with winning more than 60 percent of workplace representation elections in recent years. [The Washington Examiner, 6/22/11]

NRO's Kirsanow: In Recent Years, Unions Have Won "Approximately 68 Percent Of Elections." Kirsanow wrote in a post on The Corner:

Indeed, in 2009 and 2010 unions won approximately 68 percent of elections (this does not include the number of petitions withdrawn by unions). [National Review Online, The Corner, 6/21/11]

... But More Than One-Third Of Successful Union Petition Drives Never Even Reach An Election

Labor Journal Article: 35 Percent Of Union Drives Never Reach An Election. Writing in Industrial & Labor Relations Review, MIT doctoral candidate John-Paul Ferguson found that between 1999 and 2004, about 35 percent of cases in which an election petition was filed -- meaning organizers collected enough signatures to trigger the election process -- did not result in an election ultimately being held. From a chart published with his article:

[Industrial & Labor Relations Review, Vol. 62, No. 1, article 1]

Big Government Grossly Misrepresents NLRB's Proposal

Big Government: Rule Changes Include "Electronic Voting," Removal Of Secret Ballot, And "Giving Digital Readouts Of The Home Addresses And Contact Information" Of Employees. From a June 21 post on

The rule changes would include: electronic voting, which may open up fraud, as well as coercion and intimidation of voters who no longer have the protection of private ballots; rushed elections so employees don't have time to inform themselves about having to pay union dues, live and work by union rules, and support a vast leftwing political machine; the inability for employers to challenge the validity of voting employees until it's too late; and giving digital readouts of the home address and contact information for all the employees the union is targeting. [, 6/22/11]

NLRB: Proposal Allows Petitions, Notices, And Voter Lists To Be Transmitted Electronically -- Says Nothing About Electronic Voting Or Secret Ballots. From the NLRB fact sheet:

Current procedures:

Parties or the Board cannot electronically file or transmit important representation case documents, including election petitions.

Proposed procedures:

Election petitions, election notices, and voter lists could be transmitted electronically. NLRB regional offices could deliver notices and documents electronically rather than by mail, and could directly notify employees by email, when addresses are available. [, accessed 6/22/11]

NLRB: Proposal Changes "The Procedures [NLRB] Follows Prior And Subsequent To Conducting A Secret Ballot Election," Not The Election Itself. From the NLRB fact sheet:

On June 21, 2011, the National Labor Relations Board, Member Hayes dissenting, proposed reforms of the procedures it follows prior and subsequent to conducting a secret ballot election to determine if employees wish to be represented for purposes of collective bargaining. The proposed amendments are intended to reduce unnecessary litigation, streamline pre- and post-election procedures, and facilitate the use of electronic communications and document filing. [, accessed 6/22/11]

NLRB: Current Rules Require Employers To Provide Names And Home Addresses Of Employees -- Proposal Adds Phone And Email Contact Information. From the NLRB fact sheet:

Current procedures:

The final voter list available to all parties contains only names and home addresses, which does not permit all parties to utilize modern technology to communicate with voters.

Proposed procedures:

Phone numbers and email addresses (when available) would be included on the final voter list. [, accessed 6/22/11]

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