WASHINGTON (May 15, 2:15 p.m. ET) — The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has thrown out rules put in place by the National Labor Relations Board that would have sped up union representation elections, and enabled votes to be held as soon as two weeks after the union filed a petition with the NRLB to hold an election.
But the battle over the rules is not over as NLRB is expected to revote and issue the rules again, this time following proper administrative procedure.
The rule change — designed to help unions organize more workplaces — -had gone into effect on April 30 and cut in half the amount of time permitted for voting on unionization. A February report by Bloomberg Government found that unions win 87 percent of elections held within 15 days of a request, but only 58 percent of elections when the vote is 36 to 40 days. The median time frame for NLRB union representation votes has been 38 days,
U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg said May 15 that NLRB's December 2011 vote was null and void because a quorum of three was not present, in his ruling on the lawsuit brought by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace.
“Because no quorum ever existed for the pivotal vote in question, the Court must hold that the challenged rule is invalid,” said Boasberg.
At question in the future is whether the recess appointments made by President Barack Obama in January will have the legal standing to validate the requirement to have the vote approved by a quorum of the board.
“The NLRB has consistently overreached on this issue, and the NLBMDA maintains its strong opposition to the unfair mandates” in the rule, said Michael O'Brien, president of the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association, which is a member of the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace.