Reps. Andy Levin (D-Mich.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Penn.) sent a letter on Monday signed by 168 Members of Congress calling for funding to enable the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold union elections electronically in the next coronavirus stimulus bill. A prior appropriations bill restricted the NLRB from using any funds to implement electronic voting.
"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 Members of Congress wrote.
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. The National Mediation Board, which oversees representation elections for airline and railroad workers, has allowed internet voting since 2007.
"Now more than ever, workers must have a voice," said Andrew Pantazi, a NewsGuild-CWA member and reporter at the Florida Times-Union. "At my company, Gannett has used the coronavirus as an excuse to cancel three union elections, all while the company forces furloughs and fails to provide necessary protective equipment for journalists."