Even small employers can defeat the union and win an election, if they obtain professional assistance, act decisively and deliver a clear, convincing message to their employees. However, winning an NLRB election is no small achievement. Here are the Fundamentals, Part One: A brief description of how the union secretly manipulates your employees to obtain an election with the National Labor Relations Board.
Pre-Petition, Union Card-Signing Activities: According to Federal Law, the National Labor Relations Act, a union may not request an election with the National Labor Relations Board until it first obtains employee signatures on union authorization cards from at least 30% of the employees that the union seeks to represent (each union has its own authorization cards that it uses). Practically speaking, the union will not usually request an election until 50% or more of the employees that it seeks to represent have signed union authorization cards. A “showing of interest” by 50% or more of the employees demonstrates to the union that it can actually win an election. Depending upon the size of the employer’s workforce, a small number of signed union authorization cards can satisfy the 30% showing of interest requirement. For example, if there are only 10 employees, then only 3 employees need to sign union authorization cards before the union requests an election.
Union Authorization Cards: Unions can and do mislead employees about the purpose of union authorization cards. A union organizer may tell the employees that the card is merely a request for further information from the union, or a general showing of interest in the union and the services that it claims to provide. In fact, the card is a legal document that the union uses to obtain an election with the National Labor Relations Board. If a majority of employees sign these cards, the union can also show these signed cards to the employer and demand to be recognized as the employees’ bargaining representative. If the employer recognizes the union, then the union could become the employees’ bargaining representative without an election. However, a recent ruling by the National Labor Relations Board now provides that, for a 45 day period following a notice of union recognition, employees can trigger an NLRB election if at least 30% sign a petition stating that the employees do not want the union (Dana Corp. 351 NLRB No. 28 (Sept. 29, 2007).
The Union’s Empty Promises: The union can and does make promises that it cannot guarantee, such as promises of better wages and benefits, just to get the employees to sign these cards. Nevertheless, under the National Labor Relations Act, the union’s empty promises are considered legally unobjectionable, union campaign propaganda. These tactics are frequently used by union organizers to get cards signed.
Request for an Election: Absent recognition by an employer and, with a sufficient number of cards signed by the employees, the union may file a formal, written request for an election with the National Labor Relations Board. This written form upon which the request is made is called an “RC Petition.”
The Secret Nature of the Union’s Organizing Activities: The union typically attempts to conceal its activities until it is ready to file the RC Petition with the Labor Board. Employees are usually hesitant or afraid to report the union’s activities as well. So, it is not unusual for an employer to first learn of the union’s organizing activities when it receives formal notice from the National Labor Relations Board that an NLRB Election will be conducted at the Employer’s place of business.
A Timely Employer Response is Critical: However, if the employer learns of the union’s card-signing activities before the union is ready to file for an election, there is still time to act. With professional assistance, the employer can sometimes stop the union’s organizing activities in order to avoid an election with the National Labor Relations Board.
Stay tuned for NLRB Election Fundamentals – Part Two: The Legal Basics That All Employers Should Know