NLRB Proposal to Speed Up Union Elections Prompts Local Debate
On June 21, the National Labor Relations Board unveiled proposed new rules that would make it somewhat easier for workers to organize new unions in this country. The proposed rules would simply speed up the process for holding union certification elections.
One of the problems workers in the U.S. face when they want to form unions is that employers, coached on by union-busting consultants, can file a number of challenges and appeals to delay elections. And, employers then use these long delays to work over their workforce--using both legal and illegal tactics to intimidate employees--to ensure a “no” vote when the election is finally held.
On June 29, the Wisconsin State Journal ran a scathing editorial critical of proposed new NLRB rules. (You can read the editorial by visiting Madison.com.) They should know what they’re talking about. In 1977, the Journal, The Capitol Times and Madison Newspapers, Inc, employed a professional union-busting firm who used the NLRB rules to bust five unions at the newspapers.
Laura Dresser, labor economist and associate director, Center on Wisconsin Strategy at UW-Madison, responded to the State Journal editorial by noting that the proposed rule changes are really quite modest. “You’d be forgiven if you couldn’t tell that from reading this paper’s rant against these changes in the June 29 editorial....”
“This proposed rule change simply ensures that workers have the basic right to vote,” she said. “That’s a right we hold dear. Under the current union election process, workers face systematic delay tactics — litigation, wrangling, stalling — sometimes waiting months or even years for their union vote....”
“Many corporations don’t like these rule changes. That isn’t a surprise. Corporations have developed anti-union strategies that start from the day of hire and escalate into delay tactics in the case of an actual organizing campaign.”
“Why delay? Because the longer workers wait for a vote, the harder it is for the union to win — because leaders move onto other jobs, workers lose energy, and intimidation tactics begin to take their toll....”