NLRB to Resume Representation Elections

On April 1, 2020, the National Labor Relations Board (the “Board”) announced that it would resume conducting representation elections beginning Monday, April 6, 2020. On March 19, 2020, the Board temporarily suspended elections due to safety concerns surrounding the COVID-19 global pandemic. At that time, the Board explained that a two-week suspension would allow the Board time to “fully review the logistics of the election procedures in light of the unprecedented situation.” The Board further justified its two-week suspension by noting that many regional offices had closed, most employees were teleworking, and it was not confident that any election could be run effectively.

During the two week suspension, labor groups called on the Board to allow elections to proceed with appropriate safeguards in place. Labor groups argued that suspension of elections destroyed a vital resource for workers’ rights at an unprecedented time in history when it is needed most. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka stated “Right now, union representation is critical in the midst of the COVID-19 public health and economic crisis, with workers facing unsafe conditions, layoffs and intense uncertainty.”

In an April 1, 2020 announcement ending the suspension of elections, Board Chairman John F. Ring explained, “The General Counsel now has advised that appropriate measures are available to permit elections to resume in a safe and effective manner, which will be determined by the Regional Directors.” Accordingly, effective April 6, 2020 Board representation elections will resume.

We do not yet know how the Board’s regional offices will conduct representation elections beginning April 6. Previously, the Board conducted elections either in person (generally at the employer’s facility) or, in limited cases, via mail ballot. The Board’s April 1 announcement grants discretion on how to resume representation elections to Regional Directors (the highest ranking officials at each NLRB regional office). Given the COVID-19 social distancing regulations, coupled with stay at home orders and closing of non-essential businesses in place in many states, it is highly likely that Regional Directors will order mail ballot elections in many if not most situations. However, this remains to be seen.

Companies who are in the midst of a union organizing campaign or others who have questions regarding this announcement should consult Daniel Sobol, Joseph Hofmann, Brandon Shemtob or the Stevens & Lee attorney with whom you regularly work.

This News Alert has been prepared for informational purposes only and should not be construed as, and does not constitute, legal advice on any specific matter. For more information, please see the disclaimer.