New Rules to Make Union Organizing a Little More Worker-Friendly

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is changing its rules to allow for more timely union elections, which are often stalled by employers hoping to discourage employees from unionizing.

Businesses often use unnecessary litigation to slow down the organizing process by months or even years. The new rules seek to speed up the union certification process by cracking down on employer delaying tactics and moving to an electronic filing system for election petitions.

“Too often, lengthy and unnecessary litigation over minor issues bogs down the election process and prevents workers from getting the vote they want,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “We commend the NLRB’s efforts to streamline the process and reduce unnecessary delay.”

The board also issued a ruling that will allow employees to use company email accounts for union organizing and to discuss other workplace issues, including wages, provided they do it on their own time.

Three Democrats on the board voted yes on the ruling, while two Republicans abstained. It overturns a 2007 decision.

“By focusing too much on employers’ property rights and too little on the importance of email as a means of workplace communication, the Board (in its earlier ruling) failed to adequately protect employees’ rights…and abdicated its responsibility ‘to adapt the Act to the changing patterns of industrial life,’” the NLRB reasoned.

The new rules take will take effect on April 14, 2015.