Can Unionization Affect Your C-Store Business?

Proposed changes by the Department of Labor and the National Labor Relations Board could drastically change how employers interact with their workforce.

Recently, both the Department of Labor (DOL) and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced proposals to change rules that could have significant impact on employers. Both sets of proposed changes are consistent with how the current Obama administration taking steps to make it easier for unions to organize employees. Through the administrative rule making process, they are doing it without utilizing the Congressional legislative process.

These two topics will be discussed more thoroughly by labor relations expert Jeff Usher, of Reed Consulting, at the 2011 National Advisory Group Ideas Conference in September. However, there is a reason that convenience store owners may want to take action before attending the NAG meeting.

Within the rulemaking process, there is a 60-day period during which anyone may comment on the rules. In addition, during that period there is an opportunity for employers to contact their elected officials and make their views known. In these matters there is some urgency, since the 60-day periods will expire during the last week in August.

Brief descriptions of the two changes are:
1. NLRB Pre-Elections Procedures. The rules proposed by the National Labor Relations Board are intended to shorten and consolidate the procedures both before and after a representation election. The longer term significance is that this may be the NLRB’s first step towards actually shortening the representation election period from the current 42 days to something like 10 to 21. In the shorter term, expediting the procedures prior to the election will allow the Board to conduct the elections quicker and the voting will take place sooner. This will obviously leave less time for employers to prepare if they have not already done so.

2. DOL Persuader Regulations. The Department of Labor proposed regulations will require increased reporting of financial relationships between employers and consultants/lawyers. As a result it is likely that many law firms which currently provide labor law advice may opt not to continue certain services. Services defined in the list of “persuader activities” may include: election campaign management; drafting of speeches, letters, etc; development of policies and procedures; employee surveys; employee meetings and supervisory training. This is another step by the government to limit the support to employers or to cause them to reveal financial information that the unions can “spin” to their advantage.

Details of the proposed changes can be found at the Department of Labor Website, dol.gov and the National Labor Relations Board website, nlrb.gov. Instructions on how to comment on the proposed rules can be found there as well.

If you have questions or desire additional information you can contact Jeff Usher who will be speaking on this and other current labor relations issues at the 2011 NAG Ideas Conference in Savannah, Ga. To register for the NAG Conference, which will feature cutting-edge content on the impact of tobacco regulations and FDA store inspections, new foodservice labeling requirements and how the Americans with Disabilities Act is impacting c-store owners, visit www.nagconvenience.com or email info@nagconvenience.com.

Usher is also available prior to the NAG conference to assist c-store owners that would like to submit comments or contact their elected representatives regarding these matters. He can be reached directly at either jusher4reed@aol.com or (704) 849.0664.

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