Businesses Say NLRB Tilting Union Election Procedure to Benefit Big Labor

Congressman: New NLRB ambush election rule is latest administration assault on workplaces


Businesses are criticizing the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for tilting union election procedure to benefit organized labor.

The National Retail Federation, the largest industry association in the country, blasted the majority-Democrat board for rushing union elections. They say that “ambush elections” in which votes are held quickly following the union signature gathering, do not afford employers enough time to educate their workers about the impact of unionization.

“The National Labor Relations Board has issued its ‘new’ ambush election rule that seeks to limit employees and employers’ participation in union elections by reducing the timeframe between the filing of union petitions and the actual election,” NRF senior vice president for Government Relations David French. “What’s not new is the NLRB’s desire to support union activism over sound public policy.”

Union organizers can spend months visiting the homes of employees lobbying them about the benefits of union membership. The picture the employee receives is one-sided and self-interested, which gives the union an inherent advantage come election day, according to French. Companies, especially large retailers, want a slower process that will give union opponents equal time to make their case.

The decision prompted objections from Republicans on the House Education and Workforce Committee. Chairman John Kline (R., Minn.) said the rule “will make it virtually impossible for workers to make an informed decision in union elections.”

“Just as troubling, the rule is a direct threat to the privacy of workers and their families. Joining a union is an important decision; every employee deserves a reasonable amount of time to consider all the facts before casting his or her vote,” he said in a statement. “Current policies provide workers such an opportunity, and they shouldn’t be discarded in a blatant ploy to benefit union bosses. The committee will continue to conduct aggressive oversight of this deeply misguided rule.”

Rep. Phil Roe (R., Tenn.), chairman of the Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions subcommittee, went one step further, accusing the administration of stifling free speech and crippling worker freedom.

“The board’s ambush election rule is the latest assault on our nation’s workplaces by the Obama administration,” he said in a statement. “Under the president’s watch, workers and job creators have lost faith in the board’s ability to fairly and objectively administer the law. Rather than work to restore the public’s trust, the board seems determined to make matters worse. At a time when millions are searching for a job and struggling to make ends meet, America’s workers and job creators deserve better.”

The NRF is hoping that the NLRB will not attempt to engage in “ambush rulemaking” by rushing the ambush election rule into official labor policy. French added that the board should take the time to give a fair hearing to employers and other ambush opponents about the pitfalls of changing election rules.

“The National Retail Federation maintains that employers should be given ample time and opportunity to make their case on unionization and intends to file its formal objections to the ambush election rule,” he said. “NRF urges the NLRB to live up to its obligation to be an objective arbiter for both employees and employers.”

The NLRB has come under intense scrutiny during the Obama administration.

Several of the president’s recess appointments are being challenged before the Supreme Court and congressional Republicans have decried the board’s habit of pursuing pro-union rules that depart from precedent. Legislation has been introduced to reverse several NLRB decisions and policies that have departed from decades of precedent.

Bill McMorris   Email Bill | Full Bio | RSS
Bill McMorris is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. He joins the Beacon from the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, where he was managing editor of Old Dominion Watchdog. He was a 2010 Robert Novak Fellow with the Phillips Foundation, where he studied state pension shortfalls. His work has been featured on CNN, Fox News, The Economist, Colbert Report, and numerous print publications and radio stations. He is a 2008 Cornell University graduate and lives in Alexandria, Va with his wife Teresa and daughter Olivia. His Twitter handle is @FBillMcMorris. His email address is