May 14, 2015
Big Labor and the Obama administration scored a big victory on May 5. It happened when Senate Republicans failed to secure a two-thirds majority to override the president’s veto of legislation that would have reversed the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) “ambush” election rule.
The “ambush” election rule took effect on April 14, and with this ruling, union bosses — desperate to save their declining membership — now have valuable new tools to coerce and intimidate workers into joining their ranks.
The new rule will significantly shorten the window of time in which an election to unionize can be held — from an average of 38 days now to as few as 11 days after a petition has been filed. Shorter election times mean a much greater likelihood of unionization. Data from the NLRB show that from 2004 to 2014, unions won 60 percent of elections that took place between 36 and 42 days, but 86 percent of elections that took place under 21 days.
American small businesses, which often lack the infrastructure and support staff to ensure compliance with new and complex changes, will be acutely affected by the ruling. Employees now have much less time to educate themselves about unionization, while employers will be forced to submit a formal statement of position within seven days and will not be able to amend their statement before a representation hearing.
The new rules also eliminate an employer’s automatic right to a post-election review. Instead, employers are left to trust that the results are accurate and fair.
Union organizers can now approach any employee for their vote in unionizing the workplace without verifying that they are even eligible to vote. Incredibly, eligibility won’t be decided until after an election takes place.
These new NLRB policies also represent a serious violation of worker privacy. Union bosses now have blanket access to employees’ personal information, including phone numbers and email address, job classifications, shift schedules, work locations and home addresses. Employers can no longer protect personal employee information, and there’s no reason to think labor organizers will be shy about using it. In some instances, labor organizers have been known to camp out in front of workers’ homes to attempt to bully them into joining the union.
On the brink of irrelevance, labor unions bankrolled President Obama’s election and re-election campaigns, and now the administration is doing everything in its power to pay back its labor benefactors.
American employers can’t afford the aggressive, underhanded tactics made possible by the “ambush” elections ruling and other anti-competitive rules and regulations.
At a time of unprecedented global competition, and during an increasingly challenging and unpredictable economic environment, one would hope that the Obama administration would focus on supporting innovation and responsible risk-taking, while also standing by the basic rights of workers and business owners. Unfortunately, however, in trying to reward union bosses, this administration appears determined to pursue the exact opposite.
Hector Barreto is the former administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA).