Caution: Union Organizing Activity Can Come Quickly

May 5, 2015

We have written several blogs about the recent activity of the National Labor Relations Board that directly affects union organizing efforts. Recent action by the NLRB has authorized the use of company e-mail for union solicitation communications by employees. The NLRB has also published major revisions to the union election rules which expedite the union election process and drastically reduce the time for a company to raise objections to the list of employees that would be eligible to vote in the union election.

Under the recent NLRB ruling, employers may not prohibit an employee from using company e-mail to send information about union organizing or a possible solicitation for union representation. This means that employees have direct access to other employees by e-mail to advocate joining a union. While this case will be subject to further judicial review, employers may have to open the door through e-mail to much easier communication amongst employees. 

The changes to the union election process allow an individual to file an election petition by e-mail and requires an employer to disclose available personal e-mail addresses and phone numbers of employees that would be deemed eligible to vote in a union election. As a result, the speed of technology will make for very quick election proceedings and employers will have little opportunity to engage in a campaign against the effort to seek union representation by employees. This means that companies must be prepared to act, on a moment’s notice, to respond to potential union organizing activities. Companies should have information and draft communications ready to go quickly if there is evidence of a union organizing campaign amongst its employees. 

We anticipate there will be legal challenges to this recent NLRB decision about use of e-mail and the recent NLRB rules on “quickie” elections but while those legal challenges are being processed, employers are at risk of a very quick and effective union campaign to organize the employees at a particular facility or throughout the company. It is now up to employers to be ready to respond immediately if they become aware of a union organizing initiative.

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