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NLRB revives plan for faster union elections

Bloomberg News

WASHINGTON -- U.S. labor regulators have proposed speeding up the process for employees to form a union, reviving a 2011 rule fiercely fought by business groups before it was thrown out by a court on a technicality.

The National Labor Relations Board, in a 3-2 decision released Wednesday, said it was reissuing rules to shorten the time for employee elections and requiring businesses to give union leaders lists of worker phone numbers and emails before a vote.

Within hours, the Republican-led House Education and Workforce Committee announced a March 5 hearing on the measure.

The 2011 rule was hailed by labor and drew legal challenges from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to stop "ambush elections." It was among several contentious decisions that drew the ire of Republicans, who delayed confirmation of President Barack Obama's board nominees. In 2012, a federal judge threw out the rule, saying the board that voted for it had too few members.

"These proposals are intended to improve the process for all parties, in all cases, whether nonunion employees are seeking a union to represent them or unionized employees are seeking to decertify a union," NLRB chairman Mark Gaston Pearce said Wednesday.

Employer groups had braced for yesterday's action. With the five-member panel operating at full strength for the first time since Obama took office five years ago, business groups expect the board to revive initiatives that were sidelined by vacancies.

"Ambush elections hurt manufacturers" and "undermine the strong and productive relationships between managers and employees," said Jay Timmons, president of the National Association of Manufacturers.

Union advocates praised the rule, saying it balances the playing field in the workplace."When workers petition for an NLRB election, they should receive a timely opportunity to vote," said AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka.

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