Congress Rushes to Block Union 'Ambush' Election Rule

Forty-four senators have signed on to an effort to block a National Labor Relations Board rule that would allow rush, "ambush" union elections.

Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, is leading the resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act, under which legislators can stop a federal agency from implementing a recent rule or regulation.

Before NLRB member Craig Becker’s recess appointment expired in December, the board issued a rule that allows union bosses to spring elections on employers without preparation time for the employer. It allows elections to occur in 20 days and limits the evidence that can be presented at a pre-election hearing.

Senators opposed to the rule contend that elimination of the previous grace period heaps strain on small-business owners who suddenly need to organize legal counsel in the face of surprise organizing effort.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace have filed suit over the rule, arguing that "the blatantly partisan purpose of this rule is to ensure that employers have no time to talk to their workers about unionizing, and that the only information workers will get will come from the union." The lawsuit also alleges that the rule was passed without a lawful quorum.

"This is a definite attempt by the NLRB to skew the relationship between management and labor, and it turns the National Labor Relations Board into a ‘National Labor Unfairness Board,’” said Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), ranking member on the HELP Committee's Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety. “It’s only fair to give a company enough time to make its case prior to a union election, and when you compress that time, you create a rush to judgment or at worse, an ambush.

"Our country has had stable labor laws in place for 75 years," he added. "At a time of high unemployment and a sluggish economy, trying to weigh the playing field one way or another either against management or for labor is just the wrong thing to do.”

A companion statement of disapproval was set to be issued in the House.

The Senate Congressional Review Act resolution cannot by filibustered and needs a simple majority to pass. But they only have a 60-day window to act on the rule.