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Capitol Hill Update

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On Oct. 26, the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce approved the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act (H.R. 3094). The bill is a response to two recent National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) actions:

1) The NLRB’s proposed rule to significantly change the rules governing representation elections in the workplace (known as the “quick election” rule);
2) The Board’s August 2011 decision in the Specialty Healthcare case that reversed a 20-year standard for determining which employees can be included in a bargaining unit and therefore participate in an election.

The bill, which now moves to the full House, would effectively nullify the quick election proposal by guaranteeing employers at least 14 days between a union petition filing and a NLRB pre-election hearing. It would also require at least 35 days after a petition filing before an election can be held. And, to protect employee privacy, it repeals the requirement that personal contact information be provided to the NLRB and the union.

The measure would also reverse the Specialty Healthcare decision by reinstating the traditional standard for determining which employees can vote in a union election.  Under Specialty Healthcare, a minority subset of employees (e.g., restaurant bartenders versus all wait staff) in an organization’s workplace could be organized.  If enacted into law, H.R. 3094 would reinstate the traditional bargain units in an organization, such as those who share a sufficient community of interest, or similarity of wages, benefits, and job duties, among other factors.

SHRM had submitted comments to the NLRB on the quick election proposal and joined an amicus brief on the Specialty Healthcare case. It registered its support of H.R. 3094 by co-signing a letter to the House committee. 

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