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Senate votes to kill NLRB's pro-union 'ambush election' rule

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Photo Credit: AP

The Senate voted Wednesday to overturn a federal regulation that Republicans say will put companies at an unfair disadvantage when their employees decide to hold a union election.

In December, the National Labor Relations Board issued a rule that shortens the time between when union organizers ask for a union election at a company, and when that company must allow the election to take place. The rule could force companies to allow these elections to happen as soon as 11 days after they're notified, which Republicans say doesn't give companies enough time to react.

Photo Credit: AP The Senate voted Wednesday to kill a National Labor Relations Union rule aimed at making it easier for workers to quickly call for union votes. Photo Credit: AP 

Republican opponents of the rule call it the NLRB's "ambush election" rule.

Congress has some authority to fight the rule, under the Congressional Review Act. That law allows Congress to pass a resolution disapproving of a rule, and eliminate the rule altogether if it can be passed and signed into law by the president.

The Senate took the first step toward abolishing the rule by voting in favor of a disapproval resolution, in a 53-46 vote. That vote sends the resolution to the House.

The sponsor of the resolution, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), said the rule should be overturned because union elections are generally held very quickly, and that companies should not be faced the prospect of preparing an important union vote in less than two weeks.

"What is the problem here?" he asked during Tuesday's debate on the bill. "Today, more than 95 percent of union elections occur within 56 days of the petition filing. But under this new rule, elections could take place in as few as 11 days."

While the resolution would likely pass the House, it faces a veto threat from President Barack Obama, who would protect the NLRB rule that Democrats said is aimed at protecting workers.

"The Board's modest reforms will help simplify and streamline private sector union elections, thereby reducing delays before workers can have a free and fair vote on whether or not to form or join a union," the White House said in a statement opposing the resolution. "The National Labor Relations Board's representation case procedures rule helps to level the playing field for workers so they can more freely choose to make their voice heard."

To override Obama's expected veto, and two-thirds majority vote will be needed in the House and Senate. Today's vote in the Senate indicates that Republicans aren't close to the 67 votes needed to override Obama.

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