Last month the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) suspended union elections across the country in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. It did so until April 3, 2020, and stated via press release that it would evaluate whether to extend the moratorium even longer. We now know that union elections will resume on April 6, per a new statement issued by the agency.
NLRB Chairman John Ring made a formal remarks about these developments:
“Conducting representation elections is core to the NLRB’s mission, and ensuring elections are carried out safely and effectively is one of our primary responsibilities. Two weeks ago, when the Board made the difficult decision to suspend elections, the developing situation made it impossible to ensure the safety of our employees or the public. With many regional offices closed and most employees teleworking, the Board was not confident that any type of election could be run effectively. Based on these concerns, the Board determined that a two-week suspension would provide the General Counsel, who is delegated authority to supervise the regional offices, which conduct elections on the Board’s behalf, the opportunity to fully review the logistics of the election procedures in light of the unprecedented situation. 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. We appreciate the patience and understanding of all NLRB stakeholders during this challenging time.”
It will be interesting to see if mail-in ballots and other relatively rare methods are used in elections as the pandemic persists. The outbreak also likely will have significant impact on how union campaigns are run by both management and labor organizations given the social distancing recommendations and requirements being implemented around the nation. For example, large in-person group meetings may not be an option in many cases. We will continue to update you on these issues as they unfold.