National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) General Counsel Peter Robb appears to want NLRB Regional Directors to give more consideration to holding manual, rather than mail, ballot elections than they have during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Employment Law360, during a National Employment Law Council webinar, Robb announced he will post on the NLRB’s website his “‘suggested protocols’ for employers and unions to follow before the regional directors who process election petitions will call for in-person votes.’”

Robb said he expects to post the protocols by July 3. He acknowledged that, no matter what his protocols contain, it is up to the NLRB to decide what are “‘sufficient safety measures to run manual elections.’”

During April through June 2020, almost 100% of the NLRB elections conducted have been by mail ballot, even where both the union and the employer wanted a manual ballot election.

Typically, manual ballot elections are conducted on the employer’s premises. In order to vote, employees must be handed a ballot by an NLRB agent who is on the premises to conduct and supervise the election. Regional Directors have uniformly decided that this procedure may subject the agent and employees to the risk of contracting COVID-19. Several of the Regional Directors’ decisions have been appealed to the NLRB. In all cases, the NLRB has decided there was no abuse of discretion in ordering a mail ballot election. For more on manual and mail ballot elections during the pandemic, see our Special Report, Plan Ahead, Employers: NLRB Ordering Mail Ballot Elections Because of COVID-19 Pandemic.

We will monitor developments and provide updates. Please contact a Jackson Lewis attorney if you have any questions.