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Union Organization and Labor Relations: Federal

Union Organization and Labor Relations requirements by state

Author: Mark Goodwin, LeClairRyan


  • New rules governing the union representation election process, often called the ambush election rules, became effective April 14, 2015. See Unionization Process
  • To form a union, employees must file with the NLRB authorization cards from 30 percent or more of employees. Then, more than 50 percent of the employees voting in a secret ballot election must cast their ballots in favor of union representation. See Process of Forming a Union.
  • Certain senior management and HR practices can help prevent unionization, including: a clear employer position opposing unions, regular senior management meetings with all employees, and HR/legal review of discipline and terminations. See Best Management and HR Practices to Remain Union-Free.
  • Local supervisors can create a "family spirit" and prevent unionization with: employee identification with the employer, employee recognition, effective local employee communications, and careful management of local working conditions. See Best Employee Relations Practices for Local Supervisors.
  • The best practices for exercising employer free speech and winning a union election campaign include: adherence to TIPS and prevention of tainted "laboratory conditions"; effective captive audience meetings with employees; and enforcement of nondiscriminatory solicitation and distribution policies, employer bulletin board policies, email policies and social networking policies. See Win a Campaign Against Unionization.
  • Penalties for employer violations during a union election campaign include rerun elections and orders to bargain a contract with the union even if the union loses the election. See NLRB Penalties for Illegal Employer Actions During an Election Campaign.
  • Currently, 26 states have Right to Work laws that make it more difficult for a union to organize in those states. See Right to Work Laws.
  • The NLRA permits unionized employees to seek to decertify a union as their representative in certain circumstances. An employer may not instigate or assist employees with such efforts. See Union Decertifications.