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: 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.
Author: Melissa Boyce, JD, Legal Editor
The Supreme Court in Harris v. Quinn struck down an Illinois law compelling home care personal assistants (PAs) working under the Illinois Rehabilitation Program to pay union dues despite being non-members but stopped short of stripping a state's ability to require non-union public sector workers to pay union dues. In a 5-4 decision, the Court narrowly ruled that the First Amendment prohibits the collection of "fair share" or agency fees from the PAs because they are "partial public employees" rather than "full-fledged public employees."
In-depth review of the spectrum of Mississippi employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to Union Organization and Labor Relations
In-depth review of the spectrum of Mississippi employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to public sector labor relations.
Three new laws that take effect July 1, 2014, will further protect employers from certain union activities.
The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects the rights of an employee to organize and form a union in order to address issues regarding wages, hours and working conditions. An employee, even in the absence of a union, also has the right to engage in protected concerted activity- acting on behalf of co-workers or interacting with others for the legitimate furtherance of their common interests.
New guidance is available to help an employer understand what it may and may not do or say during the union campaign.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has reissued proposed amendments to rules and regulations that would streamline and shorten the time for representation case procedures governing the union election process. The amendments are identical to those first proposed by the NLRB in 2011, which were later struck down by a district court judge because the NLRB lacked a quorum when the amendments were adopted.
According to the new annual report released by the US Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the percentage of private sector workers who are union members increased from 6.6 percent in 2012 to 6.7 percent in 2013.
HR guidance on how to prevent unions from forming.