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Washington Retail Insight

‘Ambush’ Union Organizing Rules Take Effect

By J. Craig Shearman
Washington Retail Insight
May 2, 2012

Controversial “ambush” regulations dramatically shortening the time retailers and other employers have to prepare for union organizing elections took effect this week after a judge turned down a last-minute request to put the rules on hold while hearing a lawsuit brought by a coalition representing NRF.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg ruled against the Coalition for a Democratic Workforce on Friday afternoon, saying a stay wasn’t necessary because he plans to issue a ruling on the coalition’s lawsuit by May 15.

That cleared the way for the regulations to take effect on Monday as scheduled, and the National Labor Relations Board issued a 24-page guidance memo advising employers of the new requirements.

“The provisions of the final rule are designed to reduce unnecessary litigation in representation cases and thereby enable the Board to better fulfill its duty to expeditiously resolve questions concerning representation,” NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon said in the memo.

Approved by the NLRB on a 2-1 party-line vote in December, the regulations allow a union organizing election to be held in as little as 14 days, down from the current median of 37 days for most elections and an average 101 days for those involving legal challenges filed by employers.

NRF has argued that the short time period will give employers little time to make their case against unionization, telling lawmakers last week the rules would contribute to “the economic uncertainty facing both employers and employees.” 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.

The Senate last week rejected legislation sponsored by Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Ranking Member Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., that would have blocked the rules.

NRF is a founding member of the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace and chairs its lobbying committee.

© 2012 National Retail Federation

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