Union Organization and Labor Relations



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Author: Mark Goodwin, LeClairRyan


  • New rules governing the union representation election process became effective April 14, 2015. See New Union Representation Election Rules
  • 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, 25 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.

State Requirements

The following states have additional requirements for this topic under applicable state law.