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Washington Retail Insight

Senate Rejects Move to Block ‘Ambush’ Union Elections

By J. Craig Shearman
Washington Retail Insight
April 24, 2012

The Senate has rejected legislation that would have overturned controversial National Labor Relations Board regulations allowing “ambush” union organizing elections that are set to take effect at the end of this month.

Senators on Tuesday voted 54-45 against S.J. Res. 36, a “resolution of disapproval” sponsored by Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Ranking Member Mike Enzi, R-Wyo. The resolution would have blocked NLRB rules that reduce the timeframe for union elections from the current median of 37 days to as little as 14 days.

NRF has led the retail industry’s fight against the regulations, saying the short time period would give employers little time to make their case against unionization. Organized labor is expected to use the new rules and other recent pro-union initiatives approved by the NLRB to target traditionally non-union industries like retail.

“We urge you to strongly reject this backdoor card check agenda by a board of unelected bureaucrats and restore balance to the organizing process so that we can start removing the economic uncertainty facing both employers and employees,” NRF Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French said in a letter sent to senators before the vote.

French said Enzi’s resolution would “relieve the serious threat to both employees and employers posed by” the regulations. He said ambush elections threaten to “drastically change the process for union representation elections and would severely limit worker access to information needed to make an informed decision about whether or not to vote in favor of a union.”

Enzi said the NLRB, which has a 3-2 Democratic majority under appointments made by President Obama, is “tipping the scale” in favor of unions by adopting the regulations. Senator Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said the board is “removing important safeguards that ensure a fair election process” and that ambush elections would “limit workers’ opportunities to hear both sides of the argument to unionize.”

NLRB member Brian Hayes, the only Republican on the panel when the regulations were approved last year and the only member to vote against them, spoke last week at NRF’s Committee on Employment Law meeting in Florida.

© 2012 National Retail Federation

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