People hold "Vote Union Yes!" signs

People hold "Vote Union Yes!" signs during a protest in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, Stop Asian Hate and the unionization of, Inc. fulfillment center workers at Kelly Ingram Park on March 27, 2021 in Birmingham, Alabama.

(Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)

NLRB Rolls Back Trump-Era Policies That Dragged Out Union Elections

"In reversing this rule, the NLRB is leveling the playing field and helping workers," said one pro-labor group.

Workers who wish to vote on forming a bargaining unit will no longer be held up by rules that were put in place in 2019 by Republican members of the National Labor Relations Board under the Trump administration, as the panel passed a regulation on Thursday that the board chair said represented a return to a "basic principle" of labor protections.

The NLRB's new regulation restores protections put in place in 2014, which ensured union elections would be held swiftly.

Under the new rule, the board said it "will meaningfully reduce the time it takes to get from petition to [union] election in contested elections and will expedite the resolution of any post-election litigation."

The changes include:

  • Allowing pre-election hearings to begin more quickly and making them more efficient;
  • Distributing election information to employees more quickly; and
  • Requiring NLRB regional directors to hold elections at "the earliest date practicable," eliminating a 20-day waiting period.

"It is a basic principle of the National Labor Relations Act that representation cases should be resolved quickly and fairly," said Chairman Lauren McFerran, who criticized her Republican colleagues in 2019 for imposing new rules to delay union voting. "By removing unnecessary delays from the election process, the new rule supports these important goals, and allows workers to more effectively exercise their fundamental rights."

Like the policies announced Thursday, the 2019 changes were made via a direct final rule, without a public comment period. The Republicans on the NLRB at the time extended deadlines related to union elections and added steps to the process.

"Slowing union elections gave companies more time to union-bust under [former Republican President Donald] Trump," said the pro-labor media organization More Perfect Union.

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