Washington Restaurant Market Watch: NLRB’s new union elections rules – What you need to know

Washington Restaurant Market Watch: NLRB’s new union elections rules – What you need to know https://wahospitality.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/NLRB_659x439-659x198.jpg

By Paul Schlienz

Knowledge is power.

Never was this truer for restaurant operators than with two current rulings of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on union elections and joint employers. It is essential that restaurateurs familiarize themselves with these rules and prepare accordingly.

In this post, we will examine the NLRB’s new rule on union elections

Earlier in 2015, the NLRB ruled that as of April 15, restaurants must provide an enormous amount of information to union organizers within 11 days of the delivery of a union petition.  Potentially, employees can organize a union at a workplace in less than two weeks. Prior to this rule, it took an average of 38 days between the time a petition was filed and the election was held.

Under the current rule, if employees wish to form or join a union or decertify an existing union, they may file an election petition. Employees must file the petition with the nearest NLRB Regional Office. The petition must be supported at a minimum by 30 percent of employees. Once the petition is filed, restaurants must post a Notice of Petition for Election in conspicuous places.

During that period, employers must gather and review massive amounts of information, including the union’s constitution, bylaws, financial reports, records of strikes and many other documents. Employers, most likely, will need the services of a labor attorney in addition to training management on how to respond to issues related to attempted unionization. This is a tremendous workload for 38 days, and nearly impossible in the drastically reduced timetable of the new NLRB rules.

Employers are big losers under the NLRB’s rule. The narrow timetable limits employees’ ability the full story of what unionization can mean for them, including mandatory union dues, scheduling and promotions based entirely on seniority instead of performance, and harsh penalties for violating union rules.

Angelo Amador, the National Restaurant Association’s vice president of labor and workforce policy, urges restaurant operators to prepare now before they are hit with a union organizing petition.

“Restaurant operators need to start preparing themselves now,” said Amador. “It doesn’t mean you have to have everything in line, but you need to know what the requirements are and what you can and cannot say before that happens. Talk to a labor attorney because under the new rules, you won’t really have a lot of time to react. If you start preparing for a union election when you’re served with a petition, it’s going to be too late.”

The restaurant industry is not taking this threat sitting down.

A coalition of business groups, including the National Restaurant Association, under the umbrella of the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, is fighting this rule in court. There is good reason to believe this rule may ultimately be struck down because this is exactly what happened to a similar NLRB rule a few years ago. There is, however, no timetable on when a judge will rule on the case.

Stay tuned for next week’s Washington Restaurant Market Watch, which will detail what you need to know about the NLRB’s joint employer rules.

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