How should an employer respond to a union's request for a voluntary recognition?

Author: Jed L. Marcus, Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C.

A lawyer representing an employer usually advises the employer not to voluntarily recognize a union but to make it file a representation petition requesting a secret ballot election with the regional office of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). This is because a union may lose an election even where it has collected a majority of the authorization cards from the employees.

An employer must be cautious when responding to a request for voluntary recognition. Often, when requesting voluntary recognition, the union representative may offer to show the cards to an employer representative such as a supervisor or manager. The employer representative must refuse because if he or she looks, and there are sufficient cards, the NLRB may deem him or her to have recognized the union even though he or she did not expressly consent to recognition. Instead, the employer should refuse to look at the cards, refuse to voluntarily recognize the union, and demand that the union file a representation petition with the NLRB.