On June 1, a federal judge ruled that the Obama administration should be allowed to speed up the process by which employees unionize.
The "ambush election" ruling is perhaps one of the most egregious National Labor Relations Board rulings to date, significantly speeding up the unionization process while providing no tangible benefit to American workers. With union membership steadily on the decline — from nearly one-third of workers in the 1960s to one in ten American workers today — it appears as though the union-backed NLRB will stop at nothing to increase union rolls and pad big labor bosses' pockets.
As expected, since the ambush election rule went into effect in April, the number of petitions for elections to unionize has risen dramatically. In the first three months of the rule taking effect, case filings have increased by 15 percent. According to data provided by the NLRB, from April to July, election filings totaled 773, up from 668 during the same period last year. Since April 14, 20 ambush elections have been held, taking an average of 25 days.
The shortest election to take place, according to National Law Review, was in Region 22 in Newark, New Jersey, where an election was conducted in just nine days. In this instance, employers and employees had just over a week to educate themselves on the facts.
Historically, employers had an average of 38 days — a little over a month — to combat and plan for a union election. In fact, in 2014, more than 95 percent of these elections occurred within 56 days. The extra time was important, allowing small companies that don't have in-house counsel to hire an outside legal expert to ensure they are complying with labor laws and election practices.
Before this rushed ruling, employers had that extra time to speak with their employees and explain what unionization would mean for their individual workplace, and for their paychecks. But not anymore; the ambush election ruling stifles an employer's ability to speak freely with his or her workers and increases the likelihood that a workplace will unionize.
History shows that the shorter the amount of time an election takes place after the petition is filed, the greater the likelihood that a company will unionize. From 2004 to 2014, unions won 86 percent of elections that took place in less than 21 days, while they won only 60 percent of those that occurred within 36 to 42 days.
Workers should have the right to make informed choices when casting a ballot in workplace elections, just as they do when they cast a ballot for their government officials. Ambush elections seek only to benefit union bosses, who often use coercion and misinformation to get a favorable vote. Workers shouldn't be forced to make rash decisions without having time to gather the facts.
The new rules also violate worker privacy. Previously, employees were only required to provide names and home addresses. Now, however, they must provide all contact information they have for their employees, including personal email addresses and both cell and home phone numbers. Union bosses now have the ability to harass workers and their families at home, in hopes of getting a favorable vote.
Fortunately, business-friendly members of Congress included provisions in both the House and Senate appropriations bills earlier in July to defund the NLRB, and took action to block the board from implementing these rules. If these provisions remain in these "must pass" appropriations bills, President Obama may have little choice but to sign them. I applaud Congress for coming together in a bipartisan way and attempting to roll back this NLRB overreach, and encourage them to keep at it.
Backed by taxpayer dollars, the NLRB was originally created to protect workers, not tip the scales in favor of union membership. But the Obama administration's NLRB has proven to be one of the most ideological in America's history, stifling employers' free speech, hurting workers' free choice and invading employee privacy. It's time to rein in the board's power. Workplace elections, like all elections in our American democracy, should be fair, impartial and transparent. Unfortunately, thanks to this new ruling, they are anything but.
Hector Barreto is the former head of the Small Business Administration.Thinking of submitting an op-ed to the Washington Examiner? Be sure to read our guidelines on submissions.