Unions must provide evidence that at least 30% of the proposed bargaining unit supports its petition before the Board will schedule an election. Unions may either submit signed and dated authorization cards or a signature list. Until recently, employees needed to physically sign their name in ink on a piece of paper. Now, though, the Board accepts electronic signatures to support a union’s showing of interest for an election petition. The electronic signature must contain the signer’s name, email address or social media account, phone number, authorization language agreed to, date, and name of the employer. The signature cannot contain private identifying information such as the signer’s date of birth or Social Security number.
This change in the law is effective immediately, and companies should expect unions to take advantage of their newfound ability to submit electronic signatures. The freedom to gather signatures using email and social media is yet another way that the Board has made it easier for unions to organize employees. Who among us hasn’t clicked “Agree” on their cell phone or computer screen when downloading an app or opening a program? We as a society don’t read fine print. I anticipate unions creating an app or a newsletter opt-in where employees must “Agree” to electronically sign an election petition before completing a download or sign-in. But, the details of what the employee is agreeing to will be tucked in the fine print and never read.
Bringing technology to the union organizing process enables unions to obtain all of the necessary signatures in a shorter timeframe than before electronic petitions containing electronic signatures were permitted.
Matt Austin is a lawyer based in the Columbus, Ohio office of Roetzel & Andress, LPA who limits his practice to representing employers dealing with labor, employment, and OSHA matters. You can call Matt at (614) 723-2010 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.