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    N.G.A. Blasts Proposed Changes to Union Campaigns

    Trade group believes shorter organizing period would restrict rights

    The National Grocers Association (N.G.A.), in comments filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), expressed its opposition to the board’s proposed changes to shorten the time for union organizing campaigns. N.G.A.’s comments reiterate independent grocers' firm objection to the possible alteration of more than six decades of NLRB practice.

    “The NLRB's proposed rule change that alters the long-standing balance between labor and management that has existed for over 60 years is profoundly troubling,” said Peter J. Larkin, president and CEO of Arlington, Va.-based N.G.A. “The current rules have allowed both parties to operate in good faith and hold elections with a true secret ballot. Congress enacted the National Labor Relations Act, and Congress should oversee any significant changes to how the act is implemented. N.G.A. strongly urges the NLRB to withdraw these proposed changes.”

    While N.G.A. is against all of NLRB’s proposed changes, the trade group’s comments specifically related to the reduction in the time period between the filing of the petition and the election. The current average of 31 days from filing of petition to election is “hardly unreasonable,” according to N.G.A., adding, “By limiting the time in which an employer may express its views, the proposal plainly impairs an employer's right of free speech. Similarly, by restricting an employer's rights to express and disseminate its opinions, the proposal would also restrict an employee's rights to receive and make an informed decision based upon the information presented before casting their ballot.”

    In June, the NLRB issued proposed amendments to its existing rules and regulations pertaining to elections. With the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) stalled in the previous Congress, the board is proposing rule changes to permit elections that could take place between 10 and 14 days after the filing of a petition. The anticipated result, N.G.A. believes, is that the shorter time frame will make it “considerably easier” for unions to organize and win elections, as under the current time frame, unions have won more than two thirds of such elections.
     

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