Hey, hey, the gang's all there

Big labor line-up in Washington DC Monday and Tuesday as unions and business groups opine on proposed changes to how union elections are conducted. The National Labor Relations Board has promulgated new regulations that will essentially speed up the election process.  sides.

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Unions have long complained that employers drag out the election process by setting up procedural roadblocks, giving employers more time to intimidate workers. That's why unions pushed hard for the Employee Free Choice Act, which would have bypassed elections if a majority of workers signed cards saying they wanted to be represented by a union. Employers countered by saying that "card check" legislation gives unions too much of an opportunity to intimidate employees.

The card check legislation has died and isn't likely to get anywhere in this political climate, so the NLRB is now trying to address some of the issues with the election process. The biggest change, as far as I can tell, is that it allows the procedural issues to be resolved after the election. Typical procedural issues have to do with the boundaries of the group proposed for unionization -- which types of workers, what types of departments, all locales or one locale? Are the workers who signed the petition for an election bonafide employees? 

Interestingly, the lineup includes several former NLRB commissioners, opining on both sides. Lots of academics, including Kate Bronfenbrenner from Cornell University, who has written on employer intimidation during organizing drives. Ronald Meisburg, appointed by President George W. Bush as NLRB General Counsel, will speak on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce which opposes the changes.