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NCCR, NRF critical of proposed changes to union elections

The National Council of Chain Restaurants and its parent organization are assailing the National Labor Relations Board’s proposed rule changes to the union election process as being “nothing but a backdoor card check,” claiming the changes could prove costly to small businesses and their employees.

“Unions weren’t able to get the Employee Free Choice Act through Congress, so they’re using administrative procedures at the NLRB to turn as much of the bill into law as possible,” said Matthew Shay, president and chief executive of the Washington, D.C.-based National Retail Federation, NCCR’s parent.

The foodservice industry and other business groups for years have aggressively opposed the federal union card check measure — also known as the Employee Free Choice Act — which would have given workers the ability to form a union through either card check or an election by secret ballot.


Opponents of the measure argued that the proposed law would have subjected employees to coercion by union organizers and make it difficult for business owners to respond to an organizing campaign.

The card check measure was derailed in Congress about four years ago, but opponents have been warning that elements of the bill could be revived by the NLRB.

NLRB officials said the proposed alterations are “intended to reduce unnecessary litigation, streamline union-organizing elections, and facilitate the use of electronic communications and document filing.”

Among other changes, the NLRB proposed reducing the number of days between when a union files to hold an organizing election and when ballots are cast. Currently, the time frame is 38 days, but that could be cut to as few as 10 days if the measure passes.

In addition, the changes would allow election petitions, election notices, and voter lists to be transmitted electronically.

A list of current rules and proposed changes and links to other related documents, including NLRB member Brian E. Hayes’ dissent and the majority's response, can be found at the NLRB's website.

“The NLRB scheme is a job-killing solution in search of a problem,” NCCR executive director Rob Green said in a written statement. “Rather than finding ways to reward union organizers at the expense of small businesses and their employees, the NLRB should recognize that partisan politics and high unemployment don’t mix when it comes to solving our nation’s economic problems.”

Representatives of the NLRB’s office of public affairs in Washington D.C., said the federal agency had no comment related to the charges by the NRF and NCCR and some other business groups that the proposed rule changes were fueled by pro-union partisan politics.

NLRB public hearings on the proposed rule changes were staged Monday and Tuesday in Washington, and a webcast of the hearing is available via a link at the NLRB website.

The agency also said that written public comment could be submitted until Aug. 22 either electronically through or by mail or hand delivery to Lester A. Heltzer, Executive Secretary, NLRB, at 1099 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20570.

The Service Employees International Union sees the NLRB proposal differently.

“Too many workers have seen their efforts to join together on the job defeated by costly litigation and delaying tactics by their employer,” Mary Kay Henry, president of SEIU, said last month after the NLRB released its proposed rule changes. “Many never get the chance to make their voices heard at the ballot box. This rule change would protect a right that is central to our democracy — the right to vote.”

Contact Alan J. Liddle at [email protected].

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