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The Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act: Protecting Workers’ Free Choice



THE PROBLEM:

The National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) ambush election rule dramatically alters long-standing policies governing union elections. The board’s rule significantly shortens the time between the filing of a petition for a union election and the election date by:

  • Giving workers as few as 11 days to consider all the consequences of joining a union before they have to vote in the election.
                                 
  • Providing employers just seven days to find legal counsel and prepare their entire case to be presented at a pre-election hearing convened by an NLRB election officer.
                               
  • Delaying answers to important questions – such as voter eligibility – until after workers have cast their ballots, and limiting an employer’s ability to raise additional issues or concerns throughout the pre-election hearing process.

These dramatic changes stifle employer free speech and cripple worker free choice. As one witness testified, “[Workers’] rights have been abandoned by the new rule.” Making matters worse, the board’s micro-union decision (Specialty Healthcare) radically altered policies for determining which group or “unit” of employees will vote in the union election. The board’s decision restricts employee freedom and drives up employers’ labor costs by empowering union leaders to gerrymander the workplace.

THE SOLUTION:

To protect workers’ right to make an informed decision in union elections, House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) introduced the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act. The legislation, H.R. 1768, will codify long-standing NLRB election procedures, preventing an activist board from implementing sweeping changes on the workplace.

H.R. 1768, WORKFORCE DEMOCRACY AND FAIRNESS ACT:

  • Guarantees workers the ability to make a fully informed decision in a union election. No union election will be held in less than 35 days. Workers will have a chance to hear both sides of the debate and important issues that can determine how a worker votes will be decided before ballots are cast.
                         
  • Ensures employers are able to participate in a fair union election process. The bill provides employers at least 14 days to prepare their case to present before a NLRB election officer and protects their right to raise additional concerns throughout the pre-election hearing.
                                       
  • Reasserts the board’s responsibility to address critical issues before a union is allowed to represent workers. The board must determine the appropriate group of employees to include in the union before the union is certified, as well as address any questions of voter eligibility.
                                                   
  • Reinstates the traditional standard for determining which employees will vote in the union election, restoring a standard that was developed through years of careful consideration and congressional guidance.

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