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New NLRB Rules Help Eliminate Barriers to Voting


June 23, 2011

gavel representing fairness in NLRB elections

For workers looking for a voice on the job, sometimes one of the biggest obstacles is time.

Too often workers who petition for a union election are forced to wait weeks or even months for the National Labor Relations Board to sponsor an election, giving management time to initiate or continue to campaign against union supporters – often using high-pressure tactics that cross the line into illegality.


But newly proposed board rules announced June 21 would streamline the election process, upholding the right of employees to hold a secret vote in a timely manner.

Says International President Edwin D. Hill:

For too long, the right of workers to choose their own collective bargaining agent has been hampered by red tape and delays.

Management can easily hold up the election process by filing frivolous charges over issues like unit determination, allowing plenty of time to call in union busters to intimidate workers.


The board said in a statement that the changes will:


[R]emove unnecessary barriers to the fair and expeditious resolution of questions concerning representation.


The changes will also cut down on excessive paperwork, allowing workers to submit signed petitions online.


The board also proposes to help make workplace elections more transparent. The new rules require employers to provide workers with an up-to-date so-called excelsior, or voter, list in electronic format soon after an election date is set.


Says Hill:


This is a good first step to creating a level playing field in the workplace. We’re seen wages and benefits decline to their lowest levels in years, in part because anti-worker employers have manipulated the system to prevent employees from having a fair chance to vote on a union. By eliminating delays, the board is not only bringing some balance. It is also saving money for taxpayers who foot the bill because of unnecessary litigation.


The rules are subject to a 75-day public comment period before going into effect in September.   


Photo used under a Creative Commons license from Flickr user bloomsberries