The National Labor Relations Board has modified regulations governing union elections, scaling back so-called ambush election rules.

The changes extend the time between when a union files an election petition and when the election is held.

The new rules were published in the Federal Register Dec. 18 and take effect 120 days later.

The changes impact 25 amendments made in 2014 to rules that had been in place for decades. Those amendments significantly shortened the time between a union filing a petition and the election.

The new rules lengthen the time by extending deadlines and calculating time periods by business days, not calendar days.

It also gives employers more time to explain why they feel union representation may not be in their workers' best interests.

'Common Sense Changes'

Employers criticized the 2014 amendments because they believe the shorter time favored unions.

The median time from petition to election was 38 days prior to implementation of the 2014 rules, falling to 23 days within two years.

The new rules extend election deadlines and calculate time periods by business days, not calendar days.

"These are common sense changes to ensure expeditious elections that are fair and efficient," said board chair John Ring.

"The new procedures will allow workers to be informed of their rights and will simplify the representation process to the benefit of all parties."


The modifications include:

  • The employer is required to post and distribute a NLRB-issued notice of petition for election within five business days after receipt, up from two business days.
  • A pre-election hearing must start 14 days after the hearing notice, up from eight calendar days after the notice.
  • The employer must file a prehearing statement of position within eight days of getting served with a hearing notice. This is up from seven calendar days.
  • The petitioner (typically the union) must file a response to the employer's statement of position within three days before the pre-election hearing. Previously, the union wasn’t required to file anything.
  • The oft-contested issues of unit scope and voter eligibility will be litigated at the pre-election hearing. Under the 2014 rules, these issues were resolved post-election.
  • The parties have five days to file a brief after the pre-election hearing. Rules adopted in 2014 required special permission of the NLRB regional director to file this brief.
  • If the regional director orders an election, it must be held at least 20 business days after that order. The previous rule required the election to be held on the earliest practical date.
  • The employer has five business days after the election is ordered to provide the required list of voters. This is up from two days.