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A fight over how quickly workers can unionize

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There’s tons of emotional rhetoric on a new rule from the National Labor Relations Board to govern unionization votes.

The rule addresses a seemingly simple issue: How much time should there be between a union’s request to represent workers, and the workers’ vote on unionization?

Under the new rule, elections could be held as soon as 11 days after the union request. Employers say that’s too quick. 

“It simply ambushes the employer and doesn’t give them the amount of time that we need for a rational discussion,” says Jason Brewer, a spokesman for the Retail Industry Leaders Association.

Brewer says employers need more time to discuss the impact of unionization on things like worker training, and flexibility on what roles workers can fill. But unions say employers drag out the process for months, with what they call frivolous lawsuits. 

“This frivolous litigation is brought by employers in the hope that workers in the meantime will give up and actually never get to vote on whether or not they want a union,” says Nicole Berner, deputy general counsel of the Service Employees International Union.  

The rule is set to go into effect April 14. The U.S. Senate voted Wednesday to rescind it, and that measure is now in the House’s hands; President Obama has promised a veto.

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