The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

5 Ways to Prepare for the NLRB’s New Election Process

people in the shape of a handshake.

How fast can union elections take place under the process that went into effect April 14? In the recent election to organize part-time faculty at Ithaca College, a petition was filed by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) on April 15, the mail ballot election began May 11, and the ballots were counted on May 28. Overall, the median time from petition to election since the new rules went into effect is 23 days, down from a median of 38 days prior to the changes.

Given new procedures and the speed with which an election can take place, private-sector colleges and universities need to not only understand the new rules, but also have a plan for adhering to the new requirements and timelines. In a CUPA-HR webinar, Jonathan C. Fritts, a partner at Morgan Lewis, covered the key changes in detail and shared these five takeaways:

  1. Be prepared for quick elections and campaigns (4 weeks or less). Streamlined board procedures intended to reduce unnecessary litigation have significantly reduced the speed with which elections can occur. Take time now to prepare.
  2. Make sure the NLRB knows where to send a petition, if filed. Under the new procedures, NLRB regional offices can deliver notices and documents electronically, rather than by mail.
  3. Be prepared to submit promptly a position statement and the required employee information. Non petitioning parties are required to identify any issues they have with the petition, in their Statements of Position. As part of its Statement of Position, the employer must provide a list of prospective voters with their job classifications, shifts and work locations. The voter list will also include personal phone numbers and email addresses (if available to the employer).
  4. Identify potential categories of employees who may be in dispute and be prepared to litigate those issues. Under the new procedures, the purpose of the pre-election hearing is clearly defined and parties will generally litigate only those issues that are necessary to determine whether it is appropriate to conduct an election.  Litigation of a small number of eligibility and inclusion issues that do not have to be decided before the election may be deferred to the post-election stage. Those issues will often be mooted by the election results.   
  5. If denied the ability to litigate certain issues, preserve those issues for court review (through the position statement and offers of proof at hearing).

For more information, watch the recorded webinar “How Is the NLRB’s New Election Process Affecting Campus Organizing?” (presented live on June 9, 2015).