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Employee Rights poster stopped, but timeline to hold union elections reduced

April 27, 2012
A U.S. appelate court on April 17 put on hold a National Labor Relations Board notice posting rule that was to have taken effect April 30. It is the third time implementation of the rule has been delayed.
The rule would require most private businesses to display an 11-by-17 workplace poster that informs employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act, including the right to form and join unions. The poster does not inform employees of their right not to join a union or how to seek decertification of a union.
Several business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the National Federation of Independent Business, challenged the NLRB’s authority to require the notice posting.
The District of Columbia Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals will hear appeals of this month’s injunction in September.
Another regulation that does take effect April 30 reduces the time after employees petition for unionization until a representation election is held. The change improves union efforts to organize more workplaces.
The Senate on April 24 rejected a Republican attempt to overturn the new regulation. The 54-45 vote against a resolution of disapproval, largely along party lines, leaves intact the new National Labor Relations Board rule. Unions had sought the rules changes while business groups opposed them. Senate Democrats unanimously supported the new regulations. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski was the only Republican supporting them.
Under the existing regulations, workers typically vote within 45-60 days after a union gathers enough signatures from workers who say they want to hold an election. The new rules could cut that time by days or even weeks by simplifying procedures and putting off some challenges until after the election is held, cutting back hearings and reducing legal delays.
The new rules could help unions expand in the private sector, where membership has dwindled to about 6.9 percent of all workers. Retailers like Target and Wal-Mart are concerned that the new rules will encourage unions to step up organizing at their stores.
“With only about 5 percent average unionization, retailers are low-hanging fruit for union organizers,” said David French, a vice president of government relations for the National Retail Federation.