The NLRB’s so-called “ambush” election rule turned one year old last month.  To commemorate the birthday, I decided to turn to Susan Connelly, the Executive Director at PTI Labor Research, and prior contributor to this blog, to ask what she is seeing in the election data.

Nelson: Looking back at the first year of the NLRB’s “ambush” election rule, did we see the uptick in the number of election petitions filed that many predicted?
Susan: No. The NLRB released a summary of the first year of activity since the new election rules went into effect on April 14, 2015. Surprisingly, the NLRB reported only three more union representation petitions filed in the first year of the new rules versus the previous 12 months (2,144 RC petitions versus 2,141 RC petitions).
N: Some commentators also predicted an increase in the union win rate as a result of a quicker election cycle. Does the data suggest that the win rate has actually increased as compared to prior year periods?
S: Surprisingly again, the union win rate percentage for union certification petitions actually decreased in comparison to the previous 12 months. Unions won 70% of certification elections the first year that the new election rules were in effect. The year prior to that, the union win rate for certification petitions was just above that at 71%.
N: Has the election rule done what it intended to do: reduce the time an election is pending?
S: This was accomplished with the median number of days from petition to election going from 38 days to 24. Although this loss of two weeks during a typical campaign has not helped unions win more elections, it has put more of a burden on employers with compressed timescales to campaign with their employees.

Here at PTI Labor Research, we track all union petitions and elections nationally.  I think it is important to note that although the median number of campaign days is now at 24, we have seen numerous cases where the elections were held in under two weeks from the date the petition was filed.

N: Any suggestions for employers now that we are into the second year of the “ambush” election rule?
S: I would predict that as the process becomes more and more streamlined under the new rules, the timeframe from petition to election could be further reduced within the next year. Now more than ever, employers must be proactive in order to not be caught with a surprise petition and find themselves with very little time to react. Employers may want to consider, among other things, training for supervisors and managers, preparation of a “campaign ready” Steering/Campaign Committee, conducting a bargaining unit analysis, and preparing an initial strategy for card signing or petition activity.