“Ambush” Election Challenge Fails in Federal Court
A federal judge in Texas lately ruled in support of the nation’s Labor Relations Board (NLRB) inside a situation challenging the Board’s “ambush” election rules. The suit, Connected Builders and Companies of Texas, Corporation. v. National Labor Relations Board, No. 1:15-cv-00026 (June 1, 2015), was filed with a trade association and a small company advocacy organization. The plaintiffs stated the ambush election rule would harm their people and infringe their members’ legal rights underneath the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
The plaintiffs searched for declaratory and injunctive relief. They contended the new election rule ought to be declared invalid underneath the Administrative Methods Act (APA) since it (1) exceeded the NLRB’s legal authority (2) violated the NLRA by compelling the invasion of worker privacy legal rights (3) interfered with protected speech and (4) was arbitrary and capricious as well as an abuse of agency discretion. Federal judge Robert L. Pitman from the Western District of Texas granted the NLRB’s motion for summary judgment, discovering that the plaintiffs had pointed to “nothing within the record which assists their conclusion the Board meant to favor organized labor.”
I. The NLRB’s Rulemaking Authority
The plaintiffs contended the rule exceeded the NLRB’s authority “by impermissibly restricting employers’ capability to get ready for, present evidence relevant to, and fairly litigate problems with, unit suitability and voter eligibility in petitioned-for bargaining models.” Judge Pitman ruled the plaintiffs hadn’t presented any binding authority towards the effect the NLRB didn’t have the legal right to require changes implemented within the new rule.
II. The Rule, the NLRA, and Privacy Concerns
A legal court next switched towards the plaintiffs’ second argument. The rule violated the NLRA, they contended, “by neglecting to assure to employees the maximum freedom in working out the legal rights guaranteed through the Act by compelling the invasion of privacy legal rights of employees by disclosure of private information just before any determination that the union’s petition will go to an election” and “by disturbing protected speech during union election campaigns.” Regarding the invasion of privacy claim, Judge Pitman again found in support of the NLRB:
Plaintiffs’ concern that unions can “game” the system by filing a clearly deficient petition merely to obtain a list of employee names and work shifts is not well founded.
Nor is it clear why Plaintiffs believe disclosure of a list of names and job duties would result in either a violation of the Act or an employee’s personal privacy. Plaintiffs do not explain how this information would interfere with an employee’s ability to exercise his or her right to decline to talk to a union representative.
Judge Pitman downplayed the risks—identity theft and data breach—that the plaintiffs claimed might result from the delivery of employees’ personal information to unions.
III. The Rule, the NLRA, and Protected Speech
A legal court next switched towards the plaintiffs’ third argument: the new rule violated the Act by disturbing protected speech during union election campaigns. Particularly, the plaintiffs contended that “in following a New Rule, the Board manifested a ‘relentless enthusiasm for slashing time of all the stage of current pre-election procedure.’” The plaintiffs used the legislative good reputation for the NLRA to reason that a 30-day period before an election was needed. Once more, Judge Pitman could not agree, discovering that the plaintiffs hadn’t proven a provision within the NLRA that mandated a 30-day period for that exchange of knowledge just before an election.
IV. Arbitrary, Capricious, Abuse of Agency Discretion
Finally, a legal court considered the plaintiffs’ argument the ambush election rules were arbitrary and capricious, and therefore ought to be held illegal. A legal court discovered that the brand new election rule “was centered on making the election process more efficient” which “[i]ncreasing effectiveness and efficiency are hardly bases for concluding enactment of the rule is arbitrary and capricious.” The judge also noted the ambush election rule was passed “only after an thorough and extended process” concerning careful overview of evidence and arguments. Thus, Judge Pitman declined the plaintiffs’ argument the Board had behaved within an arbitrary and capricious manner in enacting the guidelines.