Many of you skip over my posts about labor unions because you view them as out of sight and mind.
“My business isn’t union. I’m not concerned about it.”
But that may change soon. Attempts to form labor unions are skyrocketing, and the Labor Board’s top lawyer wants to facilitate them.
Last Friday, workers at Amazon made huge news when they unionized a fulfillment center in New York. But is that just the tip of the iceberg in organized labor’s resurgence?
On Wednesday, the National Labor Relations Board announced here that during the first six months of FY2022 (October 1–March 31), union representation petitions filed at the NLRB had increased 57%—up to 1,174 from 748 during the first half of FY2021. Employees, unions, or employers file a representation petition with an NLRB Field Office to have the NLRB conduct an election to determine if employees wish to be represented by a union. The Field Office investigates the petitions and, if meritorious, conducts an election to allow employees to decide whether they want to be represented by a union.
What’s behind the spiking numbers? I’m not going out on much of a limb by saying that COVID-19 was a catalyst. The pandemic likely depressed the number of elections in much of 2020 and 2021. Meanwhile, how employees may have perceived that their employers mishandled the pandemic (e.g., workplace safety concerns, layoffs, etc.) could have motivated more workers to ask unions for help.
And speaking of help, Board General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo continues to be an ally to organized labor. Yesterday, she issued a memorandum confirming that she will ask the Board to find mandatory meetings where employees must listen to employers explain the benefits of remaining non-union, including so-called “captive audience” meetings, a violation of the National Labor Relations Act. The logic here is that the Act does not permit employers to require employees to attend these meetings under threat of discipline because it chills employees from exercising their right to refrain from listening to this speech.
Yet, unions are allowed to get the personal contact information of all employees and contact them to convince them individually to join a union.
The composition of the Board, as it usually is with a Democrat as President, is 3 Democrats and 2 Republicans. So, how do you think the Board will receive the GC’s call to action?
Folks, this is a big deal! If the feds make it harder for employers to tell their side about unionization when more unions seek recognition, you need to pay attention now. Amazon spent millions of dollars trying to fight labor unions, and look what happened there.
So, I’ll borrow a line from my friend Jon Hyman.
Find yourself a management-side labor lawyer who knows and understands the new rules of the union organizing road and prepare now, or pay the price later.