Last week, Reps. Andy Levin (D-Mich.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Penn.) introduced the bipartisan SAFE (Secure And Fair Elections for) Workers Act. The bill, which is cosponsored by 44 other members of Congress, removes the ban on electronic voting in National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) representation elections.
Meanwhile, the NLRB's General Counsel has issued new guidance on minimizing COVID-19 related health risks during in-person representation elections. Instead of recommending mail-in balloting if in-person elections cannot be held safely, the General Counsel advises that elections should be cancelled altogether.
That's what happened at Gannett – one of the largest newspaper chains in the United States. One hundred fifty workers were forced to wait months to vote to join NewsGuild-CWA after COVID-19 concerns were used as an excuse to cancel representation elections. All the while, Gannett was conducting furloughs and not even giving masks to some of the journalists going out in the community to do life-saving reporting.
"The freedom of workers to join together in unions and negotiate with their employers is more important during this COVID-19 crisis than ever," CWA President Chris Shelton said during a press conference about the SAFE Workers Act hosted by Rep. Levin this week. "When we see workers being laid off by the millions, other workers facing pay cuts or furloughs, and others being forced to work without the protections needed to keep them safe, there's no question that they need a real voice in the decisions being made that impact their jobs."