House Demands Answers from NLRB on ‘Ambush Election’ Rule

Rule could tilt unionization elections in favor of big labor


The House labor committee is demanding answers from the National Labor Relations Board about a new rule that may tilt the scales in favor of big labor during unionization elections.

The Education and Workforce Committee sent a letter to NLRB chairman Mark Gaston Pearce, a former union attorney, asking him to appear before the committee next week to discuss the ambush election rule, which allows unions to stage rapid votes.

"This rule will seriously limit employer free speech and undermine employee free choice," the letter says. "Despite opposition from Congress, employers, and employees … the NLRB published a new rules that includes the same misguided policies."

Committee Chairman John Kline (R., Minn.) and Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Chairman Phil Roe (R., Tenn.), the authors of the letter, want Pearce to meet with House Republicans on Tuesday to discuss the rule.

Critics of the ambush election rule say that it deprives union opponents adequate time to present its case against unionization. While labor organizers can stage months-long campaigns to gather enough signatures to put unionization to a vote, employers or workers opposed to unionization would be left with mere days to make their case.

A committee staffer told the Washington Free Beacon that the committee is entitled to know the reasons behind the decision, as it will dramatically alter how union elections have historically operated.

"The board’s ambush election rule will eviscerate protections that have been provided to workers, employers, and unions for decades," the staffer said. "The NLRB is under the jurisdiction of the Education and the Workforce Committee, and the committee is entitled to know why the board is determined to advance this radical union election scheme."

The NLRB announcement drew criticism from business interest groups that say that the board is operating as union advocates, rather than the independent labor arbiter it was designed to be. The National Retail Federation, which represents some of the nation’s largest employers, has been especially vocal in its criticism of the rule.

"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," said 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."

The House passed the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act in 2011 to close the door on rushed elections, though the bill died in the Senate.

"During the 112th Congress, employees and employers expressed to the House Education and the Workforce Committee their concerns regarding a regulatory proposal almost identical to the rule proposed by the NLRB," the committee letter says. "The concerns raised strongly suggest both workers and employers will suffer as a result of the proposed rule."

The NLRB did not return requests for comment.

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 lives in Alexandria, Va, with his wife and three daughters. His Twitter handle is @FBillMcMorris. His email address is

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