Presidential Veto Means Swift Union Elections Nearly Here

By Allen Smith March 31, 2015

President Barack Obama vetoed S.J. Res. 8, a joint resolution providing for congressional disapproval of the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB's) so-called ambush election rule, on March 31, 2015.

The business community, including the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), has opposed the rule for shortening the time between an election petition and the union election to potentially as little as 11 days and for mandating that employers provide unions with employees’ personal e-mail addresses and phone numbers during organizing campaigns.

Obama praised the rule, which will take effect April 14 (unless blocked by a lawsuit backed by SHRM), as putting “forward some common-sense, modest changes to streamline the voting process for folks who wanted to join a union.” He said that “unfortunately, the Republican Senate and House decided to put forward a proposal to reverse those changes. I think that’s a bad idea.”

Obama praised unions for being “at the forefront of establishing things like the 40-hour workweek, the weekend … [and] establishing fair benefits and decent wages. And one of the freedoms of folks here in the United States is that if they choose to join a union, they should be able to do so. And we shouldn’t be making it impossible for that to happen.”

“This fight isn’t over,” said Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. “Congress will continue to oppose this radical assault on workers and employers, and we will continue to demand a fair union election process.”

“The NLRB’s new ambush election rule forces a union election in as little as 11 days—before an employer and most employees even have a chance to figure out what is going on,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions. “I’m disappointed the president wasted this opportunity to prevent the board’s rule from infringing on every employee‘s right to privacy and every employer’s right to free speech.”

Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., chairman of the House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions, said, “With this veto, President Obama has further proved his administration is more concerned with supporting union bosses than ensuring a fair and impartial process that respects workers’ privacy and right to make decisions that are best for them.”

He added, “This latest rule is nothing more than an attempt to speed up union elections, violating the rights of workers to make an informed decision and employers to communicate openly with their employees during a union-organizing campaign.”

Allen Smith, J.D., is the manager of workplace law content for SHRM. Follow him @SHRMlegaleditor.


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