For several years, the National Labor Relations Board has been attempting to issue a new rule which would drastically reduce the time an employer might have to participate in a union campaign and tell its side of the story to employees. Although elections presently are generally scheduled from five to seven weeks after the filing of the petition, under the new rule the process could be accelerated, perhaps to as short a period as ten days after the filing of the petition. No pre-election administrative hearing would be held to decide the eligibility of individual voters unless those voters exceed 20 percent of the people in the entire voting group. Employers would be required to submit lists of potential members of the voting group prior to the hearing and again almost immediately after the issuance of a direction of election or voluntary election agreement.
The proposed rulemaking, which discussed a number of comments that already had been presented to the NLRB when it last tried, in 2012, to pass a similar bill, runs approximately 180 pages in length. It will be open for comments for 60 days. Proposed Rule
The significance of this proposed rule cannot be overstated. A union which conducts a stealthy pre-petition campaign among workers may elude notice that there even is an election campaign by the employer. The employer then may be presented with a petition and face the prospect of a fast-track election, and, although it certainly has the right to free speech under the National Labor Relations Act, may have very little time to exercise that right.