Yesterday, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a new rule that is being called a “significant victory” for organizers. The rule, which will take effect on April 30, 2012, limits pre-election challenges from employers and gives NLRB hearing officers more authority once employees obtain sufficient signatures to file an election petition. A major aspect of the new rule is that bargaining-unit questions will now be resolved after, instead of before, an election takes place. As a whole, the rule is intended to reduce pre-election litigation that often stalls elections.
The new rule was approved along party lines, with the two Democratic appointees voting in favor of it. The lone Republican appointee has not yet voted on the rule but is expected to cast a dissenting vote sometime before the rule takes effect. He is on record as criticizing his colleagues for passing the rule in haste. Notably, the term of one of the Democratic appointees expires at the end of the year, and the Board cannot issue decisions without at least three members.
Business groups opposed to the new rule have already filed a lawsuit in federal court, claiming that the Board circumvented its own procedures in issuing the rule and claiming that the rule will result in unfair elections. Employers should stay tuned for more developments in the coming months.