Levin, Fitzpatrick Lead Bipartisan Letter Signed by 168 Members Urging Inclusion of Union Election Funds in Future COVID-19 Relief Package

April 20, 2020
Press Release

Congressman Andy Levin (D-MI), vice chair of the House Education and Labor Committee, and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) today sent a bipartisan letter to House Leadership requesting funding in future COVID-19 relief legislation for the National Labor Relations Board to develop a system for holding union elections electronically. 168 bipartisan House Members signed the letter in support.

A section of the letter reads:

“In times of crisis, it is the responsibility of good government to find ways to adapt to ensure that the rights of its constituents are protected. Workers’ rights to organize and bargain collectively with their employer are always important, but especially so when subjects like adequate health care benefits, access to protective equipment, and pandemic safety protocols, are - quite literally - matters of life and death.”

The letter is supported by: AFL-CIO; American Federation of Teachers (AFT); Communications Workers of America (CWA); International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW); International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT); International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE); International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE); Service Employees International Union (SEIU); Transit Workers Union of America (TWU); United Auto Workers (UAW); United Food & Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW); and United Steelworkers (USW).

"During the COVID-19 crisis, many working people are facing dangerous and uncertain conditions on the job,” CWA Director of Government Affairs Dan Mauer said. “It is more critical now than ever that workers have a safe method to exercise their right to form a union during this time — and that means the NLRB must begin allowing electronic representation elections. CWA is thankful to Reps. Levin and Fitzpatrick for standing up for workers' rights at a time when workers' voices need to be heard to keep our communities safe." 

Signers of the letter include:

Alma S. Adams, Ph.D. (NC-12), Colin Allred (TX-32), Cindy Axne (IA-03), Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), Joyce Beatty (OH-03), Don Beyer (VA-08), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE-At Large), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Brendan F. Boyle (PA-02), Anthony Brindisi (NY-22), Anthony G. Brown (MD-04), Julia Brownley (CA-26), André Carson (IN-07), Ed Case (HI-01), Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Judy Chu (CA-27), David Cicilline (RI-01), Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr. (CA-39), Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09), Wm. Lacy Clay (MO-01), Emanuel Cleaver, II (MO-05), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Joe Courtney (CT-02), Angie Craig (MN-02), Charlie Crist (FL-13), Sharice L. Davids (KS-03), Danny K. Davis (IL-07), Susan A. Davis (CA-53), Madeleine Dean (PA-04), Peter A. DeFazio (OR-04), Diana Degette (CO-01), Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Suzan K. DelBene (WA-01), Antonio Delgado (NY-19), Ted Deutch (FL-22), Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Lloyd Doggett (TX-35), Mike Doyle (PA-18), Eliot Engel (NY-16), Veronica Escobar (TX-16), Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Abby Finkenauer (IA-01), Lizzie Fletcher (TX-07), Bill Foster (IL-11), Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11), Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), John Garamendi (CA-03), Sylvia R. Garcia (TX-29), Jesús G. "Chuy" García (IL-04), Jimmy Gomez (CA-34), Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15), Al Green (TX-09), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03), Deb Haaland (NM-01), Josh Harder (CA-10), Alcee L. Hastings (FL-20), Jahana Hayes (CT-05), Brian Higgins (NY-26), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Kendra S. Horn (OK-05), Steven Horsford (NV-04), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), Henry C. "Hank" Johnson, Jr. (GA-04), Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), William R. Keating (MA-09), Joseph P. Kennedy, III (MA-04), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Dan Kildee (MI-05), Ron Kind (WI-03), Peter T. King (NY-02), Conor Lamb (PA-17), John B. Larson (CT-01), Brenda L. Lawrence (MI-14), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Ted Lieu (CA-33), Daniel W. Lipinski (IL-03), Dave Loebsack (IA-02), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Ben Ray Luján (NM-03), Elaine G. Luria (VA-02), Stephen Lynch (MA-08), Tom Malinowski (NJ-07), Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18), Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), Lucy McBath (GA-06), Betty McCollum (MN-04), James P. McGovern (MA-02), David B. McKinley, P.E. (WV-01), Ann McLane Kuster (NH-02), Gregory Meeks (NY-05), Grace Meng (NY-06), Gwen Moore (WI-04), Joseph D. Morelle (NY-25), Seth Moulton (MA-06), Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26), Stephanie Murphy (FL-07), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Grace F. Napolitano (CA-32), Richard E. Neal (MA-01), Joe Neguse (CO-02), Donald Norcross (NJ-01), Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), Chris Pappas (NH-01), Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-09), Ed Perlmutter (CO-07), Scott Peters (CA-52), Chellie Pingree (ME-01), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Katie Porter (CA-45), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Mike Quigley (IL-05), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Cedric L. Richmond (LA-02), Max Rose (NY-11), Raul Ruiz, M.D. (CA-36), C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-02), Tim Ryan (OH-13), Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (Northern Mariana Island), Linda T. Sánchez (CA-39), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), David Scott (GA-13), José E. Serrano (NY-15), Donna E. Shalala (FL-27), Brad Sherman (CA-30), Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11), Albio Sires (NJ-08), Elissa Slotkin (MI-08), Adam Smith (WA-09), Christopher H. Smith (NJ-04), Darren Soto (FL-09), Abigail D. Spanberger (VA-07), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Greg Stanton (AZ-09), Pete Stauber (MN-08), Haley M. Stevens (MI-11), Thomas R. Suozzi (NY-03), Eric Swalwell (CA-15), Mark Takano (CA-41), Bennie G. Thompson (MS-02), Mike Thompson (CA-05), Dina Titus (NV-01), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Paul D. Tonko (NY-20), Lori Trahan (MA-03), David Trone (MD-06), Juan Vargas (CA-51), Marc Veasey (TX-33), Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-07), Peter J. Visclosky (IN-01), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Peter Welch (VT-At Large), Jennifer Wexton (VA-10), Susan Wild (PA-07), Frederica S. Wilson (FL-24), John Yarmuth (KY-03).

See the signed letter here or read the full letter below:

Dear Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader McCarthy,

As we continue to consider ways to respond to the unprecedented crisis caused by COVID-19, we respectfully request that the next legislative package include funding and a directive to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for the purpose of developing a system and procedures to conduct union representation elections electronically.

Four weeks ago, the NLRB took the extraordinary action of halting all union representation elections in response to COVID-19. Rather than using mail-in ballots or a more modern approach like telephone or internet voting, the NLRB chose to suspend the rights of workers everywhere.  While we cannot speak to why the NLRB reversed its initial position of using mail-in ballots, the reason it did not use more modern voting techniques is quite simple: it does not have any.

The NLRB, via an appropriations rider, has been restricted from using funds to “issue any new administrative directive or regulation that would provide employees any means of voting through any electronic means in an election to determine a representative for the purposes of collective bargaining.”   Given the current constraints on workers’ ability to exercise their rights during this pandemic, there is a legitimate need for accommodating the rights of workers and protecting NLRB employees during union representation elections.  Put simply, the NLRB must have safe, efficient, and flexible processes at its disposal to administer the law it is charged with enforcing.

Electronic voting in union representation elections has well-established precedent. The National Mediation Board (NMB) has conducted telephonic voting since 2002 and internet voting since 2007 in the railway and airline industries.  Today, according to the NMB, “[m]ost elections are conducted by Telephone Electronic Voting (TEV) and Internet Voting.”   Providing this requested funding, coupled with a directive to adopt the NMB election system or one similar in functionality, would bring the NLRB into the 21st century and align it with the more modern systems used to conduct elections under the Railway Labor Act.

In times of crisis, it is the responsibility of good government to find ways to adapt to ensure that the rights of its constituents are protected. Workers’ rights to organize and bargain collectively with their employer are always important, but especially so when subjects like adequate health care benefits, access to protective equipment, and pandemic safety protocols, are - quite literally - matters of life and death.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. In this time of great uncertainty, it is crucial that we act in a bipartisan manner to take the necessary steps to ensure that workers across the country are effectively protected.

Sincerely,

[Members of Congress]