NLRB Issues Guidance Memo on New Election Rules
Last December, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) postponed the effective date for the regulations on its new election process to April 30, 2012. After surviving legal and Congressional challenges, the regulations will go into effect today. In fact, just last week NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon issued a guidance memorandum outlining how regional offices will implement these new regulations.
In December, the NLRB voted 2-1 to approve new regulations that it describes as “designed to reduce unnecessary litigation in the NLRB election process.” These regulations focused on changes to NLRB procedures in representation cases, primarily in elections in which labor and management cannot agree on certain issues.
After the decision to delay the regulations, employer groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, challenged the rule in a federal lawsuit. Simultaneously, Republicans in both houses of Congress introduced resolutions under the Congressional Review Act to block the regulations. However, last week, the Senate voted down this resolution, clearing the way for regulations to go into effect today.
In his April 26 memorandum, NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon provided guidance to regional NLRB offices for incorporating the new regulatory procedures into current practices. The guidelines also address a controversial issue in the regulations that opponents said would not give reasonable time for employers to respond to union representation petitions. Solomon disagreed, stating that the regulations do not establish any new timelines.
“It is my sincere hope that the new Board rules and this guideline memorandum will save time and resources,” wrote Mr. Solomon. While the rules will go into effect today, the challenge from the Chamber of Commerce is still being considered by federal court, and the rules remain controversial. Although Mr. Solomon and the NLRB continue to maintain the rules will make the case procedure process more efficient, others disagree. The new rule “will allow union bosses to ambush employers,” says Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), ranking member of the Senate HELP Committee. Adds Robin Conrad of the Chamber of Commerce, “this is nothing more than labor regulation run amok.”