With the Employee Free Choice Act off the table, unions are looking for another way to tip the scales in their favor. Enter the so-called “quickie election.” Rather than implementing card check, the NLRB could shorten the amount of time between workers submitting a union petition and the election over unionization. Currently the median amount of time taken is about 38 days. But NLRB member Mark Pearce has said that time span should be “as brief as possible.” He pointed to the Canadian system, where elections are typically held between five to ten days after petition, as a model for the future.
It all sounds very inconsequential and loaded with jargon. Marty Payson and Roger Kaplan, labor lawyers at Jackson Lewis explain:
Of course, employees are much less likely to vote for union representation once they have had the opportunity to hear their employers’ side. But because union organizing is usually conducted secretly, employers would not know they need to share their views with their workforce until an election petition has been filed. A “quicky” election, then, really seeks to cut off debate over unionization before it begins. It would make an employer’s statutory “free speech” rights under Section 8(c) virtually meaningless.
Unions file their election petitions by getting employees to sign authorization cards without employees necessarily knowing all the facts. The quicky election would simply rubber-stamp the cards. Casting a ballot would be mere window dressing, an exercise almost as meaningless as the drafters of EFCA could have hoped.
If employers don’t have the opportunity to sit down with their workers and respond to a union’s propaganda, those workers will be far more likely to vote to organize. Employers could find their workplace unionized before they even know what hit them.
Unions should be careful what they wished for. Many employers have already begun to include union organizing information in their employee orientations. For every action, there’s a reaction — and management’s reaction to this could leave organized labor worse off than they were before.
Still, it just goes to show that there are two sides to every argument, and unions don’t want you hearing the other side. Even the demise of EFCA won’t change that.