It’s quite clear that labor leaders and their allies want to enact the Employee Free Choice Act any way they can. In light of stalled action on their highest priority by Congress, they’ve begun turning to the Executive Branch and agencies like the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to change our labor laws with that goal in mind.
The NLRB has published a request for information (RFI) for “secure electronic voting services” that include electronic balloting devices. While the proposal has not yet risen to the level of rulemaking, it suggests the agency is planning to mandate electronic devices in union representation elections.
The information request — posted here — states that the agency is looking for proposals that support “mail, telephone, web-based and/or on-site electronic voting.” The request indicates that these devices could be used remotely, and that’s much different from the current process of NLRB supervised elections that typically take place at worksite through manual ballots. The agency says it will take into account “accuracy, secrecy, observability, transparency, integrity,” but we are very concerned that the use of electronic devices outside the worksite (potentially by portable computers or related devices) could open representation elections up to coercion by union organizers.
The current process of NLRB-supervised elections maintains the integrity of union elections by deterring intimidation of employees through manual ballots, cast in private, individual voting booths at worksites. It’s not that the agency is looking to modernize the current system of union representation elections via electronic voting booths that’s the main issue here – it’s just what might happen when “remote electronic voting technology” is taken off site.
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