On April 14, 2015, the National Labor Relations Board’s “quickie” election rule took effect (despite pending lawsuits challenging the legality of the rule). Earlier this month, the Board’s general counsel issued a 36-page memorandum to provide guidance on the new rule, which we summarize in some detail below in an effort to help employers navigate these new waters. The memorandum serves as a reminder that non-union businesses should consider implementing a labor relations strategy now so they can effectively, lawfully, and quickly respond to a notice of petition for election if they receive one under the new rule. An in-depth discussion of the general counsel’s memorandum is provided. The highlights are as follows:
Tagged: Union Elections
The United States Chamber of Commerce, Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, National Association of Manufacturers, and Society for Human Resource Management have filed a lawsuit in federal court against the National Labor Relations Board seeking to enjoin a final “quickie” election rule that the Board issued last month. The rule, which seeks to expedite the union election process, will negatively impact businesses that do not have proactive labor relations programs in place by effectively stripping them of their statutory and constitutional rights to speak to their workers about labor unions before an election. Absent a postponement, injunction, or some legislative action that trumps the rule, the rule will take effect April 15.
Did you know that college football players are not “primarily students”? Well, not if the students are football players on regimented schedules, who receive grant-in-aid scholarships to play football from which their school profits, according to a Regional Director at the National Labor Relations Board. In a decision issued yesterday, the Regional Director concluded that Northwestern University football players who receive scholarships are statutory employees under the National Labor Relations Act, and, therefore, directed an election for the players to decide whether to unionize in light of a petition a union recently filed to represent them. The Regional Director relied upon the common law definition of an employee in rendering his decision, finding that: the school’s interest in the students initially stems from their football talents; letters the University sends them offering scholarships to play football (called tenders) are contracts; the school controls the players through rules and regimented workout and playing schedules; and the scholarships the players receive are compensation that cover living expenses. The Regional Director distinguished the case from Board precedent finding that graduate students are not statutory employees, by reasoning that football is unrelated to the students’ academics unlike the case involving the graduate students.
As if the groundhog’s recent proclamation of six more weeks of winter were not bad enough, the National Labor Relations Board announced yesterday that it again is proposing a rule that could expedite the union election process. The proposed “quickie” election rule is identical to a rule the Board proposed in June 2011 and (once again) is open to a 60-day public comment period. The Board will consider comments to the prior rule in addition to those it receives by April 7, 2014. Replies to the comments are due a week later on April 14, 2014.
As previously discussed on the Employment Law Alert, the National Labor Relations Board (the “Board” or the “NLRB”) recently implemented a rule that could speed up the union election process and, in turn, leave employers with less time to communicate their positions on unions to employees. Yesterday, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia declared the rule invalid because only two Board members were “present” when the NLRB passed the rule last December. The court explained that the Board did not satisfy the National Labor Relations Act’s requirement that the NLRB have a quorum (typically the presence of three Board members) to conduct business when it voted on the rule. “According to Woody Allen, eight percent of life is just showing up,” wrote the court. “When it comes to satisfying a quorum requirement, though, showing up is even more important than that.”
On December 22, 2011, the National Labor Relations Board (the “Board” or the “NLRB”) issued another “union-friendly” rule that could speed up the union election process, leaving employers with limited time to respond to a union organizing drive. A pending lawsuit challenging the legality of the new rule is outstanding. Notwithstanding, the rule applies to all newly-filed election petitions effective today as the court has not postponed the rule’s effective date despite the ongoing litigation. The court will rule on the legitimacy of the rule by May 15 (before an election could take place under the new rule).