Obstacles to Union Elections in the Era of COVID-19
The Committee on Education and Labor held a virtual briefing on the challenges to union representation elections during the COVID-19 pandemic. The briefing, entitled “Obstacles to Union Elections in the Era of COVID-19,” focused on how President Trump’s appointees to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) are actively blocking workers from exercising their basic right to form a union and negotiate for safer workplaces, paid sick leave, and other critical protections.
The briefing featured Amanda Jaret, Assistant General Counsel for the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), and Hon. Linda Puchala, Chair of the National Mediation Board (NMB), a federal agency which administers the Railway Labor Act.
On March 16, the NLRB’s General Counsel directed Regional Directors to suspend all representation elections until April 3. This suspension paused over 100 representation elections throughout the country—even elections where the union, the employer, and the Regional Office were all prepared to safely proceed with a mail ballot election. The blanket suspension of all elections and granted employers more time to campaign against unions.
While the suspension has been lifted, the NLRB still devoted time and resources toward a new regulation that makes it easier for employers to delay union representation elections. A district court recently vacated key portions of this rule for being issued without taking public comment, but other harmful provisions remain.