Overview: The process of forming a union begins when union organizers solicit authorization cards within a targeted group of employees acceptable to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Authorization cards, when signed, allow the union to represent the signer in dealing with the employer on issues concerning wages, benefits, hours, and working conditions. Union representatives and employees who support the union will try to convince employees to sign authorization cards.
While the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects the rights of employees to organize, form, join and assist labor organizations, it also protects the rights of employers to express views, arguments or opinions concerning unions, if such expression contains no threat of reprisal or force or promise of benefit. Therefore, employers aware of union organizing that wish to prevent the unionization should immediately advise employees of the reasons why a union is not in their best interest and should communicate this information in compliance with the complex rules surrounding employer speech during a union representation campaign.
Employers should also think about ways to prevent unions from organizing in the first place - one important step is having a union avoidance policy that is communicated to all employees at the time of hire. Employers should also recognize the signs of union formation, such as an unusual group of employees meeting before and after work or the discovery of union cards. Having properly trained supervisors that support senior management's initiatives and properly communicating with employees is also critical - when an employee feels a sense of unity, teamwork and appreciation/recognition they will likely avoid union organization.
Once a union gets signed cards from at least 30% of the employees in its targeted group, it can file a petition for representation with the NLRB - or, if a union gets more than 50% of the employees to sign authorization cards, it may present the employer with a demand for recognition of the union - however, most employers are not willing to concede. Between the filing of a petition and the date of a secret ballot election, employer representatives typically try and convince employees to vote against unionization.
Once election day arrives, if more than 50% of the voting employees vote for union representation, the union wins the election. However, if 50% or more of the voting employees vote against union representation, the union loses the election and the group of eligible voters remains union-free.
Trends: The NLRB has promulgated a rule that would require most private employers to post a notification advising employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and of prohibited employer actions. The notice will require that employers advise employees that they have the right to, among other things, organize and form a union. The notice will also require employers to inform employees of such things as how it is illegal for the employer to tell them they may not talk with or persuade others about a union during non-working time. Various federal court decisions striking down portions of the rule are delaying the rule's implementation.
The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has blocked the enforcement of the Quick Election Rule, which would allow an employer substantially less time to campaign against unionization.
Recent NLRB cases seem to indicate that employers who allow employees to use social networking sites during work hours will not be able to prohibit those same employees from sending pro-union messages via the same social networking sites while working. Similarly, if the employer allows social networking on employer property and equipment during non-working time, it likely will not be permitted to prohibit messages supporting the union on the same sites at the same times. There are also new NLRB cases protecting employees' rights to use social networking sites for mutual aid or protection when the employees are not working and are not using employer property. Employees will be similarly protected when using social networking sites to support union organizing efforts while not working and not using employer property.
Melissa Boyce, JD, Legal Editor
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A private employer may display this poster in their workplace to advise employees of their rights under Michigan's Right to Work law which prevents employers and unions from requiring employees to join a union or pay union dues or agency fees.
A public employer may display this poster in their workplace to advise employees of their rights under Michigan's Right to Work law which prevents employers and unions from requiring employees to join a union or pay union dues or agency fees.
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The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has announced that, for now, it will not decide Wal-Mart's unfair labor practice charge, which alleged that the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (Union) engaged in illegal picketing with the intent to unionize workers. Wal-Mart alleged in its charge that the Union violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by picketing at its stores for more than 30 days with the intent of forming a union.
HR guidance on how to prevent unions from forming.
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