WASHINGTON — Speakers representing food retailers and unionized employees testified before the National Labor Relations Board here Tuesday on proposed procedure changes to speed union elections.
More than 50 speakers representing a wide range of industries and trades testified during two days of public hearings on the changes, which are largely supported by labor groups and opposed by employers.
Jay P. Krupin, an attorney with Epstein Becker & Green, testified on behalf of the National Grocers Association, arguing that the proposal to shorten the timeframe between filing for an election and the election itself would affect employees’ ability to make informed decisions, and that the “blatantly pro-labor” posture would encourage more rancor between unions and employers. He also argued that the NLRB was abusing its authority in making changes to labor law, noting that Congress — which considered but did not act on changes a year ago — was the proper forum.
“It is instructive that one side in the long-running labor/management struggles is thrilled with the proposals while the other is threatened,” Krupin said. “In order to carry the perception of legitimacy, the ground rules of the game must be fair. They must not have the whiff of biased motivation behind them. That is not the case here.”
Speaking Tuesday on behalf of food retail unions, Pat O’Neill, organizing director of the United Food and Commercial Workers, said, “We view the proposed election rule changes as a modest but important first step toward modernizing and streamlining an outmoded process that encourages unnecessary, time-consuming and wasteful litigation.”
The NLRB, a panel that enforces the National Labor Relations Act, introduced the proposed changes in June, saying they would streamline the union election process, which frequently becomes tangled in lengthy litigation.