WASHINGTON — The National Labor Relations Board said it had adopted a final rule that it said would speed the union election process — drawing howls of protest — and a lawsuit — from retailers and other business groups. The rule is scheduled to take effect on April 30.
In addition, President Obama last week named three new appointments to the NLRB — two Democrats and one Republican — a move that also drew the ire of some business leaders. The Democratic appointees were Richard Griffin, a union lawyer; and Sharon Block, a Labor Department official. The Republican was Terence Flynn, an NLRB attorney. The appointments were made during a recess to avoid Senate approval.
The appointments of Griffin and Block are likely to promote a “pro-unionization agenda,” the National Grocers Association, Arlington, Va., said.
“NGA is very concerned that the President’s recess appointments will result in even more politicizing of the NRLB and further erode its credibility and independence,” said Peter Larkin, president and chief executive officer, NGA
. “By further tilting union organizing regulations in favor of unions and to the disadvantage of the rights of employees and employers, it makes it more difficult for independent businesses to succeed and create jobs.”
As previously reported in SN, the new NLRB rule, focusing on procedures to be followed by the NLRB in contested union elections, is a stripped-down version of a slate of proposed rule changes introduced this summer that drew 65,000 responses. The NLRB said it was holding for further deliberation parts of that proposal that had generated the most debate.
The Retail Industry Leaders Association did not see it that way, issuing a statement denouncing the so-called “ambush election” rule. “This decision erodes employers’ free speech and due process rights, and opens the door to rushed elections that will deny employees access to critical information and time to consider the issues at hand prior to entering the voting booth,” Katherine Lugar, executive vice president for public affairs of RILA, said.
A coalition including the National Retail Federation and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in the meantime filed a lawsuit seeking to challenge the ruling.