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NEWS | Recent Announcements from the NLRB, Treasury

Decisions providing easier paths to unionization are just the beginning.

Recently, the administration has been pushing through several policy changes and reports initiated by organized labor. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued a ruling in the Cemex case, a final direct rule over so-called ambush elections, and confirmed plans to issue a new rulemaking on its joint employer standard.

Additionally, for the first time ever, the U.S. Department of Treasury issued a report on the benefits of unions to the U.S. economy – a publication causing concern for many industry groups, including NSBA.


This recent NLRB decision stems from a case examining whether to reinstate precedented bargaining orders. Ultimately, the NLRB moved away from precedent, opening the door for union card checks over secret ballot elections and making this policy change without input from stakeholders.

Under the new standard, when a union claims majority support, an employer has two options:

  1. They can voluntarily recognize the union and begin to bargain with them as the exclusive bargaining representative of the unit; or

  2. They can file a petition for an election with the NLRB, but they must do so within two weeks.

If employers miss the 2-week window, the NLRB can issue a bargaining order requiring the employer to recognize and bargain with the union.

Additionally, if the employer files within the 2-week window, but then commits any unfair labor practices against the union or workers between the filing of the petition and the holding of the election, the NLRB can also issue a bargaining order requiring the employer recognize and bargain with the union.

Effectively, the NLRB’s decision limits employees’ abilities to vote in a secret ballot election. NSBA has ardently opposed this proposal in the past and will continue to do so.

Ambush Elections

On Aug 24, the NLRB issued a direct final rule altering the procedures for representation elections. The rule reverses changes made under the Trump administration, which, in turn, had reversed the Obama-era ambush election rule.

There are 10 provisions in the final rule, all of which drastically shorten the time between a union filing a petition for election and the holding of that election.

Like the Cemex decision, the NLRB issued this additional rulemaking without going through the formal notice-and-comment process, giving stakeholders no opportunity to weigh in with their concerns. NSBA also has historically opposed these kinds of changes and is continuing to push back against this overreach.

The NLRB recently confirmed it would issue a new rulemaking on its Joint Employer standard.

Department of Treasury Report

Treasury released a report at the end of August focused on the “benefits of unions to the U.S. economy,” the report’s key findings are as follows:

  • Middle class workers receive substantial benefits from unionization, including raising wages by 10-15 percent and improving fringe benefits and workplace procedures.

  • The benefits of unionization have spillover effects for nonunion workers, including increased wages and improved workplace safety.

  • Unions create a fairer economy, including by reducing race and gender wage gaps.

  • Unions contribute to economic growth and resilience by reducing inequalities and boosting businesses’ productivity.

This is the first such report ever issued by the Treasury Department and was one of the recommendations from the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment.

In its press release, Treasury goes on to highlight some of the other task Force recommendations, including prioritizing passage of the PRO Act, appointing NLRB members and a General Counsel “committed to protecting the right of workers to organize,” and increasing NLRB funding.

The report fails to account for the significant financial and compliance burden many of these recommendations pose for America’s small businesses.

Read the full report, and check back here as NSBA stays checked in with the regulatory bodies producing policy affecting our small-business community.


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