On Might 16, 2023, Nationwide Labor Relations Board Normal Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo (the “GC”) issued revisions to her unique July 6, 2020 memorandum of recommended handbook election protocols to be used throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, discovered right here. The Board’s insurance policies have typically favored handbook elections, however that rule was upended by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the course of the onset of COVID-19, handbook elections have been halted fully and when elections resumed, they have been carried out by mail-in poll to make sure participant security. Because the pandemic wore on and extra employees and employers alike realized the best way to safely return to the bodily office, the Board issued its preliminary recommendations of the best way to safely conduct a handbook election, signaling a need to return to the established order.
In its 2020 choice in Aspirus Keweenaw, 370 NLRB No. 45 (2020) the NLRB reiterated a Regional Director’s responsibility to train discretion inside the rules and parameters established by the Board and the steerage from the GC, which is included into one of many elements within the Board’s check for figuring out the propriety of mail-ballot elections. The NLRB dominated that when Regional Administrators resolve between a mail-ballot election and a handbook one, they have to take into account six elements: (1) whether or not the company workplace is beneath “obligatory telework,” (2) whether or not the 14-day development of confirmed COVID-19 instances is rising or if the positivity charge within the space is 5% or larger, (3) whether or not the handbook election website can’t be established in a approach that conforms to native and state well being orders referring to most gathering measurement, (4) whether or not the employer fails or refuses to abide by protocols established within the Normal Counsel 20-10 memorandum, (5) whether or not there’s a present outbreak on the facility or the employer refuses to reveal present standing, and (6) different equally compelling issues. When a number of issue was current, a actuality throughout most of 2020 by means of 2021, Regional Administrators virtually reflexively directed mail-ballot elections.
With the tip of the U.S. nationwide emergency relating to COVID-19, the federal COVID-19 public well being emergency declaration, and the worldwide well being emergency, as decided by the World Well being Group, the GC overhauled its preliminary recommended handbook election protocols, signaling a probable return to the NLRB’s long-held choice for handbook elections. Whereas the GC famous that the choices on election procedures and the security of all collaborating in an election stay within the sound discretion of the Regional Director, the GC’s new protocols are considerably much less restrictive than events beforehand confronted:
- People shouldn’t attend a handbook election if they’re experiencing signs of COVID-19;
- If a person who participated in a handbook election checks constructive for COVID-19 or develops signs of COVID-19 inside 10 days after the election (or an in-person assembly related to the election), they have to notify the Board agent on the case;
- If there’s a native or state masks requirement all people current on the handbook election should put on a masks – the Area or Employer ought to present masks if they’re obtainable;
- People collaborating in handbook elections are inspired to keep up cheap bodily distance and keep away from overcrowding; and
- People shall be inspired to make use of hand sanitizer, the place obtainable.
In the end, as workplaces return to extra regular in-person engagement, the GC’s up to date Guide Election protocols align with that actuality and sign the Board’s return to its well-worn choice for handbook elections.
*Jasmine Cooper is a summer time affiliate within the Labor and Employment group and assisted with the drafting of this text.
 Whereas the NLRB has refused to overturn Aspirus, in 2022 it did make clear and realign issue two by using the CDC Neighborhood Stage metric as an alternative of the 14-day positivity charge, reasoning the group metric was a much more correct measure of threat for the contributors.