NLRB Rules Changes Could Tilt Balance of Power

John Commins, August 1, 2011

The National Labor Relations Board is considering proposed changes to rules governing union organizing practices that some critics believe could dramatically shift the balance of power towards labor.

"It is probably the most liberal, pro-labor board in the 30 plus years I've been doing this," says James G. Trivisonno, president of Detroit-based IRI Consultants, who predicts that the board will adopt most – if not all – of the proposed changes. Those changes, he says, provide organized labor with side-door access to many of the provisions unsuccessfully sought when the Employee Free Choice Act fizzled in Congress last year.

One proposed change, Trivisonno says, would require employers to provide to union organizers before an organizing vote a list of employees, their worksite locations, the shifts they work, and their job classifications.

Another proposed change would facilitate organizing smaller "specialty" bargaining units. "For example, a group of lab techs may want to organize versus an entire group of technical employees at an acute-care facility," Trivisonno says.

The biggest proposed rule change, Trivisonno says, would reduce to a matter of days the amount of time between an announced organizing campaign and a representative election. In effect, he says, union organizers could spend months quietly laying the groundwork for a representative election, before "springing" an election notice on unwitting employers.

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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