Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Labor-Friendly NLRB Revisits Rule Blocked by Federal Court

newnlrblogo.jpgOn December 21, 2011, the NLRB announced a change in NLRB election procedures, moving bargaining unit disputes to after unionization elections instead of before them. In practice, this “quickie elections” rule would give employees less time to learn about the drawbacks that come with unionization.

Not surprisingly, unions win a higher percentage of elections when employees have less time to become informed about unionization, giving them incentive to push the partisan NLRB to make the rule. Fortunately, a federal court recognized this election-law change for the bad idea that it was, and it never went into effect.

But reports of the demise of the “quickie election” rule were apparently premature. Last week, the NLRB held hearings to bring the rule back into consideration, with supporters arguing that this rule would reduce unnecessary litigation and delay, as they believe it currently takes too long to schedule a vote.

 We’ve heard these arguments about the slow and “broken” NLRB election process before, and they still don’t pass the smell test. Labor unions won 65.2 percent of representation certification elections in the first half of 2013. Labor’s real problem isn’t that it takes too long to schedule a vote, it’s that most private sector workers just aren’t that interested in joining unions. Private-sector union membership stands at 6.7 percent today, down from its peak of nearly 30 percent in 1954.

 Instead of conceding this reality, labor’s game plan is to use its influence at the NLRB to unfairly shift election law in its favor. Their proposed changes don’t just speed up the timeline for organizing: Once an election is declared, unions also have legal access to employees’ personal contact information which it can then use to visit employees at their homes and picket, protest, or otherwise pressure them to vote for the union.

 This kind of rule-change by unions and the NLRB is exactly why the Employee Rights Act (ERA) is so important. With unions pushing “quickie elections,” employees need the opportunity to formulate an informed vote and periodically reassess whether unions lived up to their promises.

Categories: Center for Union FactsEmployee Rights ActNLRB