RELEASE: New Data: NLRB Process Fails to Ensure a Fair Vote

NLRB Process Delays Union Elections

Berkeley– A study released by the University of California, Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education has found that current National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) procedures, which grant employers significant control over the timing of the election process, can interfere with employees exercising their free choice to have union representation.

After workers petition the NLRB for an election, it can take months and even years before their votes are cast. Such delays cause unnecessary conflict, job insecurity, and disruption in the workplace. Employers have learned that delayed elections are more likely to fail—as employees can be subjected to anti-union campaigning–and often use multiple tactics to interfere with employee organizing.

Case studies of delayed elections discussed in the report include:

  • a group of nurses who waited more than five years for a union election because of various delaying tactics imposed by the employer and subsequent delays in the NLRB ruling;
  • school bus drivers who were targeted by company representatives after filing a union election petition with the NLRB;
  • line workers at a cement plant whose initial 87 percent support for a union was destroyed in just two months of delays when high level company executives flew into the worksite to hold captive audience meetings and meet with workers one on one; and
  • major retailers like Walmart, which start anti-union campaigns on each employee’s first day of employment.

The study’s major findings:

  • The current NLRB election process allows significant delays in the vote. Under current circumstances, employers can delay a vote at several points along the election process. When employers pursue litigation to delay employee votes, elections occur an average of 124 days after the petition was filed.
  • Delayed elections increase the problem of unfair and unlawful anti-union campaigning, allowing for more employer interference in the process, in violation of US labor laws. In fact, “the longer the delay…the more likely it is that the NLRB will issue complaints charging the employer with illegal activity.”
  • Anti-union campaigns begin early in the election process, often before the election petition is filed. In fact, many companies provide anti-union information as soon as employees are hired.

Reporters: Contact John Logan jlogan@sfsu.edu, or mobile 510-409-1240.