On November 30, 2011, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) voted 2-1 to approve a resolution to adopt proposed rule changes that would speed up the union election process. Members Pearce and Becker voted in favor of the resolution, and Member Hayes voted against the resolution.
The resolution contains several procedural amendments, such as:
- Providing the hearing officer with authority to limit the representation hearing to matters relevant to whether an election should be held.
- Providing the hearing officer with authority to decide whether parties to a representation hearing can submit briefs, or simply present oral arguments.
- Consolidating the appeal process that follow representation hearings.
- Ending the practice of pre-election appeals.
- Limiting the options for special permission to appeal to the Board.
- Providing the Board with discretion to hear and decide appeals to the election process.
The NLRB needs to have one more vote before the proposed rule changes can take effect. The interesting thing is that the NLRB will likely have just two members beginning January 1, 2011. Based on the Supreme Court’s decision in New Process Steel, a two-member board will not have authority to vote on the proposed rule changes. Therefore, this vote will likely take place before the end of the year. If the vote does not occur by the end of the year, however, it could be awhile before these rule changes take effect.