Court upholds NLRB union 'ambush elections' rule

A U.S. district court has dismissed a lawsuit aimed at overturning a National Labor Relations Board rule that could speed up union elections.

The rule, dubbed the “ambush elections” rule by business groups, allows petitions and other documents to be filed electronically, instead of by mail, and delays employer legal challenges to elections until after workers have voted. Under the rule, employers are also required to provide unions with personal email addresses of workers.

Opponents of the rule — which include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace and the Society for Human Resource Management — filed their lawsuit earlier this year. The groups say the new procedures overstep the NLRB's authority, and violate federal law by taking away an employer's right to communicate with employees about the organizing process.

In her decision on the suit last week, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said the plaintiff's argument that the rule promoted speeding up elections without regard to other goals and requirements “is not the case.”

“Plaintiffs' policy objections may very well be sincere and legitimately based, but in the end, this case comes down to a disagreement with choices made by the agency entrusted by Congress with broad discretion to implement the provisions of the NLRA and to craft appropriate procedures,” Berman Jackson wrote.

The decision follows the dismissal of a similar lawsuit by a federal judge in Texas last month. The final rule proposed by the NLRB to expedite union procedures went into effect in April.