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HR executive tells House committee that proposal is a burden for employers and creates a disadvantage for employees
WASHINGTON — A proposed rule by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to speed up union elections would limit employers’ ability to communicate with their employees and prevent employees from receiving the information they need to make informed decisions, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) told the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce today.
“The rules should provide an employee with the opportunity to make an educated and informed decision to form, join or refrain from joining a labor organization. An employee should be able to hear from both the union and the employer,” human resources executive Steve Browne told the committee’s “Culture of Union Favoritism: The Return of the NLRB’s Ambush Election Rule” hearing. “Unless employers have adequate time to prepare their educational materials, employees will not have full information about the pros and cons of unionization.”
The NLRB has proposed shortening the time between when a representation petition is filed with the NLRB and when a union election is held from an average of 38 days to as few as 10 days.
Browne, executive director of human resources for LaRosa’s Inc., in Cincinnati, Ohio, told legislators that his company would not be prepared to effectively respond in the shortened period. The company has 1,200 employees in 15 locations in two states, Browne said, and a short time frame would mean that it could not adequately inform its employees about its perspective on the organizing effort before an election. “Whenever we communicate to our employees about workplace issues, a great deal of planning and preparation goes into the effort. In many situations, it requires multiple meetings over multiple days to make sure that we are able to communicate and educate our team members directly and to answer any questions they may have.”
Speaking on behalf of the more than 275,000-member SHRM, Browne said, “SHRM believes that if the rule is adopted, it will create an imbalance between the rights of employees, employers and labor organizations in the pre-election period.”
Browne, a SHRM Membership Advisory Council member and former state director of the Ohio SHRM State Council, also said it is equally troubling that there is no evidence the change is needed. “Data from the NLRB itself shows that union elections are held rather expeditiously, and the NLRB has not demonstrated why a 38-day average time period needs to be shortened,” he said.
The procedural changes, which originally were proposed by the NLRB in 2011 and then invalidated by a federal court, also would require employers to more quickly provide union representatives with extensive private information about employees.
“We believe this new requirement to provide so much confidential information about an employer’s employees constitutes an invasion of privacy for employees and an unnecessary data collection burden on employers,” Browne testified.
SHRM’s testimony to the committee is available at http://www.shrm.org/Advocacy/PublicPolicyStatusReports/Courts-Regulations/Documents/AE030514%20Ambush%20Election%20Hearing.pdf.
SHRM’s comments to the NLRB about its proposed rule in 2011 are available at http://www.shrm.org/Advocacy/PublicPolicyStatusReports/Courts-Regulations/Documents/NPRM%20(Representation%20Case%20Procedures).pdf.
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Follow SHRM Government Affairs on Twitter @SHRMATeam.
About the Society for Human Resource ManagementFounded in 1948, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest HR membership organization devoted to human resource management. Representing more than 275,000 members in over 160 countries, the Society is the leading provider of resources to serve the needs of HR professionals and advance the professional practice of human resource management. SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China, India and United Arab Emirates. Visit SHRM Online at www.shrm.org and follow us on Twitter @SHRMPress.
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