Human Resources

Newsletter March 2023

On February 24, the DOL published a Blog entitled “Research Snapshot: Why More Employers are Voluntarily Recognizing Unions,” in which we think it is fair to say that the DOL takes the position that employers should voluntarily recognize a union if presented with Union Authorization Cards signed by a majority of employees, rather than exercising the statutory right to a secret ballot election. It is far beyond the scope of this article to fully explain and address the union organizing and election process, but we wanted to provide our view on some of the contents of the DOL publication.

The Blog includes the following excerpts, with our associated underlined response:
“Workers today want to join unions.” – In Q1-Q3 of FY 2022 the number of Union Decertification Petitions was up 42% from the same period in FY 2021. Decertification is the process through which employees can petition for an election to get rid of a union in their workplace. Interesting that the DOL does not take the position that unions should voluntarily go away if the petition is signed by a majority of the employees. At any rate, it is clear that many workers with a union do not want to be in a union.

“Voluntary recognition means that workers not only benefit from a simpler and fairer process for forming a union, but also that businesses can avoid fighting costly anti-union campaigns against workers.” – Voluntary recognition by an employer may be “simpler” for the union, but what can be more fair than allowing workers to participate in a secret ballot election? The fact of the matter is that it can be very easy for a union to obtain Authorization Cards from employees. The union can promise anything, and often do not tell the truth when soliciting these Cards. Further, employees are sometimes coerced into signing a Card. Additionally, the election process allows an employer time to educate employees about unions, including the fact that they are businesses whose principal source of revenue comes from collecting union dues from the wages of hard-working employees. During this education process, unions often lose the support of employees.

The bottom-line is that our advice is that an employer faced with a union claiming that it has the support of a majority of employees should always require that the employees be allowed to exercise their right to an election.