In 1947, Shawe Rosenthal’s founder, Earle K. Shawe, filed the first unfair labor practice charge against a union under the Taft-Hartley Act. Now, in another major labor law first, S&R represented a Baltimore-based distribution company in the first NLRB election conducted by the Board in its Region 5 (generally covering the mid-Atlantic area) under its new “quickie election” rules. Company truck drivers rejected representation by Teamsters Local 355, by a vote of 16 to 6. Stephen Shawe and Michael McGuire represented the company in proceedings before the NLRB and during the course of the Board-shortened campaign period. The Union filed its Petition with the Board on April 16 – just two days after the new rules went into effect – and the election was conducted just 21 days later, on May 7.
Such a decisive victory for the Company suggests one of two things: (1) the Union failed to explain to these drivers the implications of signing a union authorization card (it is not uncommon for a union to gather a bunch of drivers together, serve them a fancy meal with a cold beer, and then place a union card in front of them, urging them to sign, without explaining the ramifications of doing so) and (2) the company ran an effective – albeit shortened – campaign educating employees on why the employees would be better served by rejecting union representation.
Suffice it to say, the quickie election rules create significant new legal and practical problems for employers faced with union organizing. The NLRB’s new quickie-election rules have, as a general rule of thumb, cut in half the amount of time that is available to an employer to communicate its views to employees on the important issue of unions and collective bargaining. In light of the shortened time period under the new rules, it is crucial that companies understand the “do’s” and “don’ts” during a union organizing campaign. One pertinent example occurred on the morning of this election, when the company wished to provide bagels to its employees (the voting started at 4:00 a.m.!). As delicious and harmless as this may sound, it is a big risk to serve anything to voters on the morning of an election, as the company could be accused of improperly influencing the vote.
In short, even with the “quickie election,” an educated group of managers and supervisors can run an energetic campaign and communicate effectively to employees why remaining union-free is in their best interest.