There’s been a significant policy change at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and it’s one that’s been in the works for a while. In the future, when workers grow dissatisfied with their union at their place of employment, the employer, within ninety days of the end of a contract, will be able to suspend bargaining and announce that the union will be ousted at the end of their current contract. The rights of the workers to unionize will still be recognized, but a new election will need to be held to reestablish the union or bring in a different one. (Bloomberg Law)
The National Labor Relations Board made it easier for an employer to oust a union after getting evidence that a majority of workers no longer supports that union.
The NLRB’s Republican majority modified the board’s legal framework for an employer to stop bargaining prior to the expiration of a collective bargaining agreement and announce it will eject the union when that contract ends. Under the board’s July 3 ruling, an employer that makes such an “anticipatory withdrawal” can’t be hit with an unfair labor practice charge challenging whether the union really lacked majority support when the contract ended.
On the surface, this looks like a positive step. Workers should always have the right to decide whether or not they wish to be represented by a union and if that union truly speaks for them. If a union isn’t performing up to par and the workers are unhappy with their representation they should be able to dump them.
But with that said, there’s one aspect of this rule change that leaves me scratching my head a bit. They’re saying that the employer can take this action after having been presented with evidence that the union no longer enjoys majority support among the workers. What sort of evidence? You could have a vocal, but minority group making a lot of noise against the union without it actually having lost majority support. Aside from a new election, what indisputable evidence would qualify?
I suppose you could do it with a petition if all the signatures could be verified. If you can get a majority of the workers to sign on, that would qualify as majority opposition. But in that sense, you might as well just be running another election anyway.
Don’t take this as an indication that the rule is totally flawed. I don’t believe it is. But it does need to be implemented fairly. Just as workers should have the right to reject union membership, they should also be able to join a union if a majority of them wish to do so. And employers should offer workers some sort of local collective bargaining option if they reject unionization. We should simply ensure that this rule isn’t implemented in a way that allows an employer to give a union the boot if it still has majority support among the workers.