A new study demonstrates why the National Labor Relations Board's proposed
union representation election reform
is important. The study
, by Cornell's Kate Bronfenbrenner and Columbia's Dorian Warren,
found that 47 percent of serious unfair labor practice allegations are reported before a petition is ever filed. Interrogation and surveillance are especially concentrated in the weeks before the petition is filed, and continues unabated all the way up to the election date. According to the study, this “steady, pervasive, and intense employer opposition undermines workers’ attempts to exercise their rights to choose union representation free of coercion and intimidation.”
“The data shows that employer campaigns against union certification elections begin much earlier than expected and continues all the way up to the election,” said Warren. “That is why our findings make a strong empirical argument for streamlining the NLRB certification process to reduce the period between the petition and the election as much as possible.”
In nine of eleven years for which the researchers had data, the time between the filing of a petition for union representation and the actual vote was more likely to be 151 days or more than it was to be 20 days or less.
During that time—and, as the study finds, starting well before the petition is ever filed—workers can expect to be required to meet one on one with their supervisors, interrogated about whether they support a union, and threatened with plant closings. That's exactly why employers try to delay elections: to give themselves more time to intimidate workers. And that's why the NLRB's proposal to reduce frivolous litigation and unnecessary delays could make a big difference through relatively minor procedural changes.
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