Americans usually associate mid-April with tax filing — a trying yet predictable annual ritual. This year, however, it will mean a change in America's workplaces that will threaten workers' freedom of association and privacy, while hampering employers' abilities to respond to union organizing campaigns.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) "ambush election" rule is set to go into effect April 14. The rule would drastically shorten the time period for union organizing elections, possibly to as little as 11 days after a union files a petition, giving employees little time to educate themselves on the pros and cons of unionizing.
In March, both chambers of Congress acted to limit the NLRB's overreach and union coercion in U.S. workplaces. The House and Senate passed a rare, joint resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to stop the ambush election rule from going into effect.
Although President Obama threatened to veto this legislation, it is important that our leaders challenge the NLRB and the administration on a regulation that will diminish the rights of employees and their employers.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka argues that the rule is needed to "help reduce delay in the process and make it easier for workers to vote on forming a union in a timely manner." But the rule is a solution in search of a problem.
What the NLRB is trying to address is workers rejecting union membership. Trumka is concerned about it because declining membership means fewer dues payments and less money in unions' political coffers.
In 2014 total union membership fell to an all-time low of 11.1% and only 6.6% in the private sector. The unelected bureaucrats at the NLRB are doing everything in their power to reverse this trend, since the current NLRB members came from union backgrounds or exhibit obvious union bias in their rule-making.
And the easiest way for the NLRB members to help unions increase their ranks is by limiting the time that workers have to contemplate the decision of unionization.
Currently, the median election takes place in 38 days, hardly an unreasonably long time. According to the NLRB's own performance analysis report, union representation cases are handled at above the agency's own target rate.
In FY 2014, nearly 96% of all initial elections were conducted within 56 days of the union filing a petition, but unions win more elections when employees have less time to educate themselves about unionization. From 2004 to 2014, unions won only 60% of elections conducted in 36 to 42 days but won more than 86% of elections conducted in less than 21 days, according to NLRB data.
Not only does the ambush election rule allow workers little time to make a decision that will affect their wages and work environment, it also seriously threatens worker privacy. It compels employers to provide employees' contact information to union organizers, including personal cell phone numbers, email addresses and work schedules — without an opt-out provision for those who prefer not to share personal data.
For too long, the NLRB has granted privileges to labor unions at the expense of workers, employers and taxpayers. Congress should keep up the pressure to educate Americans about the administration's desperate plan to expand its political power by boosting union membership and stifling workers' rights to free speech and privacy with the NLRB's ambush election rule.