This vote was on a procedural motion that would have cleared the way for a vote on whether the Senate would consider legislation blocking the Obama Administration from speeding up union elections.
Senate Republicans sought to bring up legislation that would block new rules from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Under federal labor law, workers who petition to form a labor union receive a hearing from the NLRB. After the hearing, the workers must wait at least 25 days to hold its official vote on unionization. Under the NLRB’s rules, that wait time would be shortened to as little as 10 days. This change was widely seen as making it easier for workers to unionize.
Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), who introduced the legislation that would have scrapped the new rules, argued that the NLRB was trying to allow workers to hold an “ambush election.” Employers and employees alike depend on the extra time before the election to consider the consequences of unionizing, he said.
“What this all adds up to is an extremely small window of time from filing a petition to the actual election, little opportunity for employers to learn their rights or communicate with employees their rights, and less opportunity for employees to research the union and the ramifications of forming a union,” Sen. Enzi said. “The NLRB is ensuring that the odds are stacked against employees and businesses. This vote is an opportunity to tell the NLRB to reverse course.”
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) called Sen. Enzi’s legislation “the latest chapter in an unprecedented Republican assault on unions.” The new rules simply streamline the NLRB process, he said.
“These commonsense changes remove unnecessary delays from the process, they cut down on frivolous legal challenges, and give workers the right to a fair up-or-down vote in a reasonable period of time,” Sen. Harkin said. “The new rules don't encourage unionization and they don't discourage it. They just give workers the ability to say yes or no, without having to wait several months or even years to do so.”
The motion to move forward with Sen. Enzi’s legislation was defeated by a vote of 45-54. Voting “yea” were 45 Republicans. Voting “nay” were 53 Democrats and 1 Republican. As a result, the Senate defeated the effort to bring up legislation blocking the Obama Administration from speeding up union elections.