Obama-packed NLRB votes to ‘speed up’ union electionsNews added by Benefits Pro on February 6, 2014

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By Dan Cook

The U.S. labor movement may be a mere shadow of what it was before union busters started to whack at its underpinnings in the 1980s. But the National Labor Relations Board is still finding plenty of ways to get involved in the politics of labor-management relations.

The latest controversy stirred up by the Obama-influenced board is its attempt to “improve” the union representation election process by speeding it up.

The NLRB passed a speed-up regulation in 2011 that irritated big business groups to distraction. It required businesses facing an election to give the union lists of email addresses and phone numbers of all covered employees. The resurrected reg would also consolidate appeals of union votes into a single post-election process and allow for electronic filing of union petitions.

“The proposed regulation mirrors a proposal that was struck down in court in 2012,” Kevin Bogardus wrote in his blog on The Hill. “The regulation is certain to draw forceful opposition from business groups and Republican lawmakers, who say the rule is evidence of how the NLRB has tilted toward unions under President Obama.”

When the earlier regulation was overturned in U.S. District court, the judge said the ruling wasn’t based on the merits of the rule but rather a technicality (a quorum wasn’t present when it was passed. The issue of a quorum and the board’s makeup has been an ongoing issue at the NLRB in recent years.)

This time around, the Obama-packed board made sure it had a quorum. The 3-2 vote this week in favor went along party lines.

“I believe that the (regulation) first proposed in June of 2011 continues to best frame the issues and raises the appropriate concerns for public comment,” NLRB Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce said in a statement. “No final decisions have been made. We will review all of the comments filed in response to the original proposals, so the public will not have to duplicate its prior efforts in order to have those earlier comments considered. Re-issuing the 2011 proposals is the most efficient and effective rulemaking process at this time.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce was the big gun behind the suit that overturned the 2011 rule. You can bet the chamber will be back to take a shot at this one too.

Originally published on BenefitsPro.com
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