The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA): Union Representation Procedures and DisputeResolution
- The National Labor Relations Act
- National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)
- Organizing Campaign Rules
- Unfair Labor Practices
- Union Certification and Recognition
- Secret Ballot Elections
- First Contract Agreements Following Certification
- Voluntary Card Check Recognition
- Bargaining Orders
- Certification Versus Recognition
- Withdrawal of Recognition
- Joy Silk Doctrine
- NLRB Review of Voluntary Recognition
- NLRB Review of Withdrawal of Recognition
- Collective Bargaining Disputes: Use of Mediation and Arbitration
- Advantages and Disadvantages of Interest Arbitration in ResolvingBargaining Impasses
- Possible Responsesto the Chilling and Narcotic Effect ofArbitration
- Small Business
- Size of Bargaining Unit
- Jurisdictional Standards
- Potential Effects of Changes in Union CertificationProcedures
- Research Findings
- Public Opinion
- Is There an Economic Rationale for Protecting theRights of Workers to Organize and BargainCollectively?
- Government Intervention in Labor Markets
- Distribution of Earnings
- Collective Voice
- What is the main reason for employees to join a union quizlet?
- What does a bargaining unit consist of?
- What appears to be the strongest reason to join a union?
- Which of the following terms refers to the group of employees the union will be authorized to represent?
The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 (NLRA), as amended, gives private sector workers the right to join or form a labor union and to bargain collectively over wages, hours, and other conditions of employment.1 The act also requires employers to bargain ingood faith with a union chosen by a majority of employees. The NLRA is administered and enforced by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
This report begins with a brief overview of the NLRA.2 It then describes the basic procedures that employees and employers must follow during a unionizing campaign. The report describes different types of mediation andarbitration that can be used to resolve bargaining disputes. The report describes the jurisdictional standards that an employer must meet before the NLRB will exert jurisdiction over a question of union representation (e.g., for a small business). Finally, the report discusses some potential effects of changing union certification procedures.
The National Labor Relations Act
The NLRA, as amended, provides the basic framework governing labor-managementrelations in the private sector.3 The act begins by stating that the purpose of the law is to improve the bargaining power of workers:
The inequality of bargaining power between employees ... and employers ... substantially burdens and affects the flow of commerce, and tends to aggravate recurrent business depressions by depressing wage rates and the purchasing power ofwage earners ... and by preventing the stabilization of competitive wage rates and working conditions within and between industries....
It is hereby declared to be the policy of the United States to eliminate the causes of certain substantial obstructions to the free flow of commerce and to mitigate and eliminate these obstructions when they have occurred by encouraging the practice and procedure of collective bargaining....4
The NLRA gives workers the right to join or form a labor union and to bargain collectively over wages, hours, and other conditions of employment. Under the act, workers also have the right not to join a union. The act requires an employer to bargain in good faith with a union chosen by a majority of employees. To protect the rights of employers and workers, the actdefines certain activities as unfair labor practices.5
The NLRA does not apply to railroads or airlines, federal, state, or local governments, agricultural workers, family domestic workers, supervisors, independent contractors, and others. The definition of "employee" in the NLRA does not exclude unauthorized workers. Thus, unauthorized workers can engage in unionactivities.6
National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)
The NLRB, which administers and enforces the NLRA, is an independent federal agency that consists of a five-member board and a General Counsel. The board resolves objections and challenges to secret ballot elections, decides questions about the composition of bargaining units, andhears appeals of unfair labor practices.7 The General Counsel's office conducts secret ballot elections, investigates complaints of unfair labor practices, and supervises the NLRB's regional and other field offices.8
A bargaining unit is a group of employees represented, or seeking representation, by a union. A bargaining unit is generally determined on the basis of a "community of interest" of the employees involved. Employees who have the same or similar interests with respect to wages, hours, and other working conditions may be grouped together into a bargaining unit. A bargaining unit may include the employees of one employer, one establishment, or oneoccupation or craft. A bargaining unit may include both professional and nonprofessional employees, provided a majority of professional employees vote to be members of the unit. Guards cannot be included in the same bargaining unit as other employees. A union and employer may agree on the appropriate bargaining unit. If not, the issue is settled by the NLRB.
Specialty Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center of Mobile
In August 2011, the board reviewed a case in which an employerargued that the group of employees petitioning to be represented by a union was not an appropriate bargaining unit.9 In this case, certified nursing assistants (CNAs) at the Specialty Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center of Mobile, AL, petitioned to be represented by the United Steelworkers (USW). The NLRB Regional Director found that the petitioned-for unit of CNAs was anappropriate bargaining unit. However, the employer requested a review of the decision, contending that the appropriate bargaining unit should include all other nonprofessional service and maintenance employees.
The duties of the CNAs at the healthcare center typically consist of assisting residents with day-to-day functions such as dressing, grooming, and bathing. The CNAs also help move residents throughout the facility, accompany them to appointments outside the center, record vitalsigns, and monitor daily intake of food and liquids. The CNAs wear nursing uniforms, are directly supervised by licensed practical nurses, are part of the facility's nursing department, and work one of three eight-hour shifts. The CNAs are required to obtain and maintain certification from the state of Alabama.
The employer argued that other employees should be included with the CNAs in the bargaining unit. The other employees include resident activity assistants who design and leadresident activities, a staffing coordinator who prepares work schedules for employees, a maintenance assistant who is responsible for building upkeep, a medical records clerk who maintains residents' medical records, and cooks. These employees have similar educational requirements as the CNAs (e.g., a high school degree). The CNAs and service and maintenance employees also receive annual evaluations under the same system, are eligible for pay raises based on their evaluations, and are eligiblefor the same benefits, such as health and life insurance. Unlike the CNAs, the other employees are not part of the nursing department and are not required to work one of three eight-hour shifts.
The board voted in favor (3-1) of the CNAs, determining that the CNAs' petitioned-for bargaining unit was appropriate. The board agreed with the Regional Director's original conclusion that the CNAs shared a community of interest because of their "[d]istinct training, certification, supervision,uniforms, pay rates, work assignments, shifts, and work areas." The board also concluded that the employer had not shown that the CNAs shared an "overwhelming community of interest" with the other service and maintenance employees.10
Organizing Campaign Rules
Campaign rules differ for employers, employees, and union organizers.Rules also differ for soliciting union support (e.g., expressing support for a union or handing out authorization cards11) and for distributing union literature. Because of exceptions to the basic rules, the rules that apply to a specific union organizing campaign may differ from the general rules describedhere.12
Employers may campaign against unionization.13 Employers may require employees to attend meetings during work hours where management can give its position on unionization. These meetings arecalled "captive audience" meetings. Employers cannot hold a captive audience meeting during the 24-hour period before an election. Supervisors can give employees written information (including memos and letters) and hold individual meetings with employees.
During work hours, employees can campaign for union support from their coworkers in both work and nonwork areas (e.g., a coffee room or the company parking lot). But employees can onlycampaign on their own time (e.g., at lunchtime or during breaks). If an employer does not allow the distribution of literature in work areas, employees may only distribute union literature in nonwork areas. If an employer allows the distribution of other kinds of literature in work areas, employees may also distribute union literature in those areas.
An employer may prevent employees from using the employer's e-mail for union activities (e.g., organizing and bargaining), provided theemployer does not allow employees to use their work e-mail to solicit support for other causes or organizations.14 Conversely, if an employer allows employees to use their work e-mail to solicit support for other causes or organizations, employees may also use their work e-mail for unionactivities.15
In general, union organizers cannot conduct an organizing campaign on company property. A union cannot reply to an employer's captive audience speech if the union has other means of reachingemployees.16 Nonemployee union organizers may be allowed in the workplace if the site is inaccessible (e.g., a logging camp or remote hotel) or if the employer allows nonemployees to solicit on company property. Union organizers may meet with employees on union property. They may hand out literature or solicit support on public property (e.g., on public sidewalks outside ofa business. Organizers may also contact employees at home by phone or mail or may visit employees at home.17 Under a neutrality agreement (described later in this report), an employer may allow organizers onto company property.
Unfair Labor Practices
To protect the rights of both employees and employers, the NLRA defines certainactivities as unfair labor practices.
Although employers have the right to campaign against unionization, they cannot interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in their right to form or join a union. An employer cannot threaten employees with the loss of their jobs or benefits if they vote for a union or join a union. An employer cannot threaten to close a plant should employees choose to be represented by a union. An employer cannot raisewages to discourage workers from joining or forming a union. An employer cannot discriminate against employees with respect to the conditions of employment (e.g., fire, demote, or give unfavorable work assignments) because of union activities. An employer must bargain in good faith with respect to wages, hours, and other working conditions.18
Employees have the right to organize and bargain collectively. But a union cannot restrain or coerce employees to join or not join a union. A union cannot threaten employees with the loss of their jobs if they do not support unionization. A union cannot cause an employer to discriminate against employees with respect to the conditions of employment. A union must bargain in good faith with respect to wages, hours, and other working conditions. A union cannotboycott or strike an employer that is a customer of or supplier to an employer that the union is trying to organize.19
An unfair labor practice may be filed by an employee, employer, labor union, or any other person. After an unfair labor practice charge is filed, regional staff of the NLRB investigate to determine whether there is reason to believe that the act hasbeen violated. If no violation is found, the charge is dismissed or withdrawn. If a charge has merit, the regional director first seeks a voluntary settlement. If this effort fails, the case is heard by an NLRB administrative law judge. Decisions by administrative law judges can be appealed to the five-member board.20
TheNLRA attempts to prevent and remedy unfair labor practices. The purpose of the act is not to punish employers, unions, or individuals who commit unfair labor practices. The act allows the NLRB to issue cease-and-desist orders to stop unfair labor practices and to order remedies for violations of unfair labor practices. If an employer improperly fires an employee for engaging in union activities, the employer may be required to reinstate the employee (to their prior or equivalent job) with backpay. If a union causes a worker to be fired, the union may be responsible for the worker's back pay.21
In FY2011, $60.5 million in backpay or reimbursement of fees, dues, and fines was awarded.22 Backpay can be awarded to workers who were fired,demoted, denied work, or were otherwise discriminated against for union activities. Estimates of the number of workers who are illegally fired for union activities range from 1,000 to 3,000 a year, with more firings in the 1980s than in later years.23 In a study of 400 NLRB election campaigns conducted in 1998 and 1999, Kate Bronfenbrenner concluded that workers are firedfor union activities in 25% of union campaigns.24
Figure 1 shows the trend in the number of unfair labor practice charges filed from FY1970 toFY2012. During this period, the number of charges filed peaked at 44,063 in FY1980. The number stood at 21,629 in FY2012. In FY2012, 36.4% of the unfair labor practice charges filed were found to have merit.25
Figure 1. Unfair Labor Practice Charges, FY1970-FY2012
Sources: National Labor Relations Board, Charges and Complaints, http://www.nlrb.gov/news-outreach/graphs-data. National Labor Relations Board, AnnualReport of the National Labor Relations Board, various years, Chart 2.
Union Certification and Recognition
Section 9(a) of NLRA states that a union may be "designated or selected for the purposes of collective bargaining by the majority of the employees" (emphasis added). Currently, there are three ways for employees to join or form a union. First, a union that is selected by a majority of employees in an election conducted by the NLRB is certified as the bargaining representative ofemployees in the bargaining unit. Second, an employer may voluntarily recognize a union if a majority of employees in a bargaining unit have signed authorization cards. Finally, the NLRB may order an employer to recognize and bargain with a union if a majority of employees have signed authorization cards and the employer has engaged in unfair labor practices that make a fair election unlikely.
A union must be certified through a secret ballot election or recognized by anemployer before collective bargaining can begin. As discussed below under "Certification," a union that is certified as the result of a secret ballot election has certain advantages over a union that is recognized by an employer without an election.
Secret Ballot Elections
The NLRB conducts a secret ballot election when a petition is filed requesting one. A petition can be filed by a union, worker, or employer. Employees or aunion may petition the NLRB for an election if at least 30% of employees have signed authorization cards. An employer may request an election if a union has claimed to represent a majority of its employees and has asked to bargain with the employer (and the union itself has not requested an election). An employer is not required to give a reason for requesting anelection.26 If a majority of employees voting (i.e., not a majority of employees in the bargaining unit) in an NLRB-conducted election choose to be represented by a union, the union is certified by the NLRB as the employees' bargainingrepresentative.27 The NLRA does not provide a timetable for holding an election. Certification of a union by the NLRB does not require that a union and employer reach an initial contract agreement.28
After a petition is filed requesting anelection, the employer and union may agree on the time and place for the election and on the composition of the bargaining unit. If an agreement is not reached between the employer and union, a hearing may be held in the regional office of the NLRB. The regional director may then direct that an election be held. The regional director's decision may be appealed to theboard.29
In a secret ballot election, employees choose whether to be represented by a labor union. If an election has more than one union on the ballot and no choice receives a majority of the vote, the two unions with the most votes face each other in a runoffelection.30
The right of an individual to vote in an NLRB election may be challenged by either the employer or union. If the number of challenged ballots could affect the outcome of an election, the regional director determines whether the ballots should be counted. Either the employer or union may file objections to an election, claiming that the election or theconduct of one of the parties did not meet NLRB standards. A regional director's decision on challenges or objections may be appealed to the board.31
A union and employer may also agree to a secret ballot election conducted by a third party, such as an arbitrator, clergyman, or mediationboard.32
The NLRB also conducts secret ballot elections to decertify a union that has previously been certified or recognized. A decertification petition may be filed by employees or a union acting on behalf of employees. A decertification petition must be signed by at least 30% of the employees in the bargaining unit represented by the union. Under what is called a"certification bar," a union that is certified after winning a secret ballot election is protected for a year from a decertification petition and from an election petition filed by another union. A secret ballot election is required for decertification.33
NLRB Changes in Representation Procedures
In June 2011, the NLRB published aNotice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in which it proposed a number of changes to current procedures for filing a petition requesting union representation, determining whether there is a question of union representation, conducting secret ballot elections, and resolving challenges and objections.34 On December 22, 2011, the NLRB issued a final rule that made selected changesto current representation procedures. The changes took effect on April 30, 2012.35 But, in response to a May 14, 2012 decision by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the NLRB suspended implementation of the changes.36
The December 22, 2011, final rule gave hearing officers the discretion to limit pre-election hearings to matters "relevant to the existence of a question of representation." According to the NLRB, current regulations give parties the right to present evidence at pre-election hearings that are not related to the question of representation.37 The rule also gave hearingofficers the discretion to limit the filing and subject matter of legal briefs filed after a pre-election hearing.38
The December 22, 2011, rule consolidated pre-election and post-election requests for review of decisions by regional directors. Currently, requests for review of pre-election decisions are filed before the election, while requests for review ofpost-election issues are filed after the election. Under the new rule, pre- and post-election requests for review will be filed after an election.39
Although the December 22, 2011, rule consolidated pre-election and post-election requests for review, a party could request special permission for review of pre-election decisions. Under the final rule, the board wouldhave granted special permission to appeal pre-election rulings by hearing officers or regional directors only in "extraordinary circumstances where it appears that the issue will otherwise evade review." According to the NLRB, current regulations do not provide a standard for the board to grant special permission for review.40
Currently, a regional director normallydoes not schedule an election until 25 days after the direction of an election. In part, the 25-day waiting period is intended to allow the board to consider requests for review of pre-election decisions. The December 22, 2011 rule eliminated the 25-day waiting period.41
Finally, under the December 22, 2011, rule, requests for review by the board of decisions byregional directors on challenges and objections to elections would have been discretionary. Currently, under a stipulated election agreement board review of post-election disputes is mandatory.42 (In a stipulated election, the employer and union agree to an election, but either party may request board review of a regional director's or hearing officer's post-electiondecisions.43)
Number of NLRB Elections
Table1 shows the number of secret ballot elections conducted by the NLRB from FY1994 to FY2010 (the most recent figures available). In FY2010, the NLRB conducted 1,823 elections. Unions won 62.3% of these elections, which was up from 46.6% in FY1994.44
In most elections conducted by the NLRB, the employer and union agree on the composition ofthe bargaining unit and on the time and place for an election. In FY2010, 89.3% of elections were based on consent or stipulated agreements between the two parties.45
Although the NLRA does not provide a specific timetable for holding an election, most elections are held within two months of the filing of a petition. In FY2012, 93.9% ofinitial representation elections were conducted within 56 days of filing a petition. The median time to proceed to an election from the filing of a petition was 38 days.46
Table 1. Number of Representation Elections Conducted by the NLRB,
Sources:National Labor Relations Board, Statistical Tables, FY2010, Table 13, http://www.nlrb.gov/node/1696. National Labor Relations Board, Annual Report of the National Labor Relations Board, various years, Chart 12,http://nlrb.gov/annual-reports.
Note:The number of elections conducted includes elections that resulted in a runoff or rerun.
In FY2011, post-election objections and/or challenges were filed in 115 cases. For objections and/or challenges that resulted in an investigative hearing (45 of 115) in FY2011, it took a median of 62 days to issue adecision or supplemental report; for those decisions and/or challenges that could be resolved without a hearing (70 of 115), it took a median of 21 days to issue a decision or supplemental report.47
First Contract Agreements Following Certification
The NLRB does not collect data on how long it takes for a union and employer to reacha first contract agreement after a union wins an NLRB election. Nor does the NLRB collect data on whether the parties reach a first contract agreement. However, a recent study estimated that, within two years of winning an NLRB election, a contract had not been reached in over two-fifths of cases. This is a higher percentage than found in estimates published in previous studies. Estimates from several studies are shown inTable 2.
Table 2. First Contract Agreements Following Certification
A First Contract Agreement Was Reached
A First Contract Agreement Was Not Reached
October 1, 1999 to June1, 2004a
First contract agreement after a union won an NLRB election.
In 56% of certifications, a contract was agreed to within two years of the election.
In 44% of certifications, a contract was not agreed to within two years of the election.
FY1986 to FY1993b
First contract agreement after a union won an NLRB election.
At least 56% of certifications resulted in a first contract. The actual percentage may be closer to two-thirds.
At most, 44% of certifications did not result in a first contract. The actual percentage may be closer to one-third.
1982 to 1986c
First contract agreement after a union won an NLRB election.
85% of service unions achieved a first contract agreement; 64% of manufacturing unions achieved a first contract.
15% of service unions did not reach a first contract agreement; 36% of manufacturing unions did not reach a first contract agreement.
April 1979 to March 1981d
First contract agreement after a union won an NLRB election. Sample included bargaining units of 100 or more employees.
1979 to 1980e
First contract agreement after a union won an NLRB election.
First contract agreement after a union won an NLRB election.
July 1, 1957 to June 30, 1962g
First contract agreement after a union won an NLRB election.
a. The estimate is based on 8,155 NLRB elections won by unions in cases closed between October 1, 1999 and June 1, 2004. Employers must bargain in good faith for one year after an NLRB election is won by a union. Therefore, the study used information from the FMCS for the period from October 1, 1999 to June 1, 2005. In recent years, the FMCS has attempted to contact the parties involved in first contractnegotiations. John-Paul Ferguson, "The Eyes of the Needles: A Sequential Model of Union Organizing Drives, 1999-2004," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, vol. 62, October 2008, pp. 3-6.
b. The 56% estimate is based on 10,783 union elections certified by the NLRB and contract agreements in which the FMCS was involved. Other certifications may have resulted in a first contract agreement (e.g., where the FMCS was not contacted for help). Therefore, theactual percentage of certifications that resulted in a first contract may be closer to two-thirds. The estimates were calculated by the FMCS for the Commission on the Future of Worker-Management Relations (the "Dunlop Commission"). U.S. Departments of Labor and Commerce, Fact Finding Report: Commission on the Future of Worker-Management Relations, May 1994, pp.73, 87,http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1279&context=key_workplace.
c. The estimates are based on a survey of union organizers involved in 128elections won by unions. Thomas F. Reed, "Union Attainment of First Contracts: Do Service Unions Possess a Competitive Advantage?" Journal of Labor Research, vol. 11, Fall 1990, pp. 428-430.
d. The estimates are based on a survey by the AFL-CIO of 271 elections won by unions. William N. Cooke, "The Failure to Negotiate First Contracts: Determinants and Policy Implications," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, vol. 38, January 1985, p. 164.
e. The estimates are based on a survey of unions that won 118 elections in Indiana during 1979 and 1980. The survey was conducted between June 1, 1982 and October 1, 1982. William N. Cooke, "The Failure to Negotiate First Contracts: Determinants and Policy Implications," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, vol. 38, January 1985, pp. 169-170.
f. The estimates are based on a 1975 survey by the AFL-CIO of 2,656 electionswon by unions in 1970. The estimates are based on the number of responses, which was not reported. William N. Cooke, "The Failure to Negotiate First Contracts: Determinants and Policy Implications," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, vol. 38, January 1985, p. 164.
g. Paul Weiler, "Striking a New Balance: Freedom of Contract and the Prospects for Union Representation," Harvard Law Review, vol. 98, December 1984, pp. 353-355.
Voluntary Card Check Recognition
The NLRA does not require secret ballot elections. An employer may voluntarily recognize a union when presented with authorization cards signed by a majority of employees in a bargaining unit ("card check"). An employer may also enter into a card check agreement with a union before union organizers begin to collect signatures. A card check agreement between a union and employer may require the union to collect signaturesfrom more than a majority (sometimes called a supermajority) of bargaining unit employees.48 A neutral third party often checks, or validates, signatures on authorization cards. A collective bargaining contract may include a card check arrangement for unorganized (including new) branches, stores, or divisions of a company.
Under voluntary recognition, employees have45 days to file a decertification petition or an election petition requesting representation by another union. After 45 days, an election petition cannot be filed for "a reasonable period of time." (See the section on "NLRB Review of Voluntary Recognition" later in this report.)
A card check arrangement may be combined with a neutralityagreement. Not all neutrality agreements are the same. However, in general, under a neutrality agreement an employer agrees to remain neutral during a union organizing campaign. The employer may agree not to attack or criticize the union, while the union may agree not to attack or criticize the employer. The agreement may allow managers to answer questions or provide factual information to employees. A neutrality agreement may give a union access to company property to meet with employees anddistribute literature. An employer may also agree to give the union a list of employee names and addresses. A neutrality agreement may cover organizing drives at new branches of a company.49
To gain an agreement from an employer for a card check campaign—possibly combined with a neutrality agreement—unionssometimes engage in "corporate campaigns." A corporate campaign may include a call for consumers to boycott the employer; rallies and picketing; a public relations campaign (e.g., press releases, Internet postings, news conferences, or newspaper and television ads); charges that the employer has violated labor or other laws; public support from political, civic, and religious leaders; and otherstrategies.50
The final way that a union may be recognized by an employer is through a bargaining order. The NLRB may order an employer to recognize and bargain with a union if a majority of employees have signed authorization cards and the employer hascommitted unfair labor practices that make it unlikely that a fair election can be held. A bargaining order may be issued without conducting a secret ballot election. An election may also be set aside because of employer unfair labor practices before the election.
According to Feldacker, "[h]ard and fast rules are not possible in determining the situations in which the Board will issue a bargaining order. Each case is based on the specific facts of the employer's violations."51 Bargaining orders may be appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals and to the U.S. Supreme Court.52
Certification Versus Recognition
A union that wins a secret ballot election is certified by the NLRB as the bargainingrepresentative of employees in that bargaining unit. Voluntary recognition or a bargaining order do not result in certification by the NLRB. The Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 (P.L. 80-101) eliminated certification through any method other than an election conducted by the NLRB.53
Certification gives a union certain advantages. For instance, a union that is certified afterwinning a secret ballot election is protected for a year from a decertification petition and from an election petition requesting representation by another union (the "certification bar"). Under voluntary card check recognition, employees have 45 days to file a decertification petition or an election petition requesting to be represented by a different union (the "recognition bar").
The duration of an employer's duty to bargain also depends on whether a union has been certified by theboard or has been recognized voluntarily by the employer. If a union wins an NLRB election (or under a bargaining order), the employer is required to bargain in good faith for a year. Under voluntary card check recognition, the employer is required to bargain with the union for "a reasonable period of time."54
Withdrawal of Recognition
Under certain circumstances, an employer may withdraw recognition of a union before a contract agreement has been reached. After one year, if an employer and a certified union have not reached a contract agreement, the employer may withdraw recognition of the union if both parties have engaged in good faith bargaining and the employer doubts, on the basis of objective information (e.g., a petition signed by a majority of employees and given to the employer), that a majority of employees nolonger support the union. Under a voluntary recognition, if no contract agreement has been reached after a reasonable period of time, an employer may withdraw recognition if the employer has reasonable doubt on the basis of objective information that a majority of employees support the union.55
Joy Silk Doctrine
Before theTaft-Hartley Act of 1947, only a union or employee could request a secret ballot election.56 Section 9(c) of the Taft-Hartley Act gave employers the right to request an election. Soon after Taft-Hartley was enacted, a U.S. Appeals court ruled that an employer's right to request an election was limited to instances where the employer had "good faith" doubt that the union wassupported by a majority of employees. An employer had good faith doubt if he believed that signatures on authorization cards were obtained through misrepresentation or coercion.57 An employer who did not have good faith doubt that the union was supported by a majority of employees was required to recognize the union or face a bargaining order for refusing to bargain with aunion chosen by a majority of employees.58 This approach was known as the "Joy Silk doctrine."59
By 1969, the board said that it had abandoned the Joy Silk doctrine. Thereafter, if a majority of employees signed authorization cards, an employercould voluntarily recognize the union or could insist on an election, either by requesting the union to file an election petition or by filing a petition himself.60 In a 1974 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court said that, if an employer insists on an election, the union must take the next step and file an electionpetition.61
NLRB Review of Voluntary Recognition
In recent years, the NLRB has considered cases involving voluntary recognition.
The United Auto Workers (UAW) and the Dana and Metaldyne Corporations
In June 2004, the board voted 3-2 to review two cases wherebargaining unit employees filed a decertification petition within weeks after the employer recognized a union under a card check agreement. In the first case, the United Auto Workers (UAW) and Metaldyne Corporation entered into a card check and neutrality agreement in September 2002. Metaldyne recognized the UAW as the bargaining representative of production and maintenance workers at its St. Marys, Pennsylvania plant in December 2003. In the second case, the UAW and Dana Corporation enteredinto a card check and neutrality agreement in August 2003. The company recognized the union at its Upper Sandusky, Ohio plant in December 2003.
In both the Dana and Metaldyne cases, the UAW and the employers entered into card check and neutrality agreements before signatures on authorization cards were collected. The signatures were validated by a neutral third party. In both cases, employees filed decertification petitions after the UAW was recognized by the employer, but before anagreement was reached on a contract. Regional NLRB directors dismissed both decertification petitions, saying that they were inconsistent with the board's "recognition bar" doctrine. Under this doctrine, following an employer's voluntary recognition of a union, employees or another union cannot file a petition for an election for a "reasonable period of time."
Employees at both Dana and Metaldyne Corporations petitioned the NLRB to review the dismissals. The employees were represented bythe National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. The NLRB granted the request, saying that the issue was whether voluntary recognition should prevent employees from filing a decertification petition within a reasonable time in cases where an employer and union enter into a card check agreement.62
In September 2007, the board issued a decision in both cases. Theboard said that, following a voluntary recognition, employees have 45 days to file a petition to decertify the union. Similarly, a rival union has 45 days to file an election petition. The petitions must be signed by at least 30% of bargaining unit employees. Employees must also receive notice of the voluntary recognition and their right to petition for a decertification or representation election. If a petition is not filed within 45 days of notice of the voluntary recognition, an electionpetition cannot be filed during the recognition bar period (i.e., for a reasonable period of time).63
Lamons Gasket Company
On August 26, 2011, the board reversed its decision in the Dana and Metaldyne cases. In July 2003, Lamons Gasket and the United Steelworkers (USW) entered into a card check agreement. In November 2009, LamonsGasket voluntarily recognized the USW as the sole representative of a unit of employees. Within 45 days following the voluntary recognition, a bargaining unit employee filed a petition for a decertification election, supported by authorization cards signed by at least 30% of employees. In a 3-1 decision, the board overruled the Dana and Metaldyne decisions and returned to the previously established rule that, following a voluntary recognition, an election petition is barred for a reasonableperiod of time. Additionally, the board defined a reasonable period of time as at least six months, but not more than a year, after the first bargaining session between the employer and union.64
The board also stated that, in determining whether a reasonable period of time has passed after a voluntary recognition, it would follow standards used in itsdecision in Lee Lumber and Building Material Corporation.65
Following the decision in Lamons Gasket, the Chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and the Chairman of the committee's Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions requested that the NLRB provide the committee with a list of cases in which an election petitionwas filed under the Dana decision and a list of cases that have been dismissed as a result of the decision in Lamons Gasket. The committee also requested a list of cases in which an election petition was filed under the Dana decision and an unfair labor practice charge was filed, a list of cases that have been dismissed as a result of the decision in Lamons Gasket and an unfair labor practice was filed, and the ballots in cases that were dismissed because of the decision in LamonsGasket.66
NLRB Review of Withdrawal of Recognition
Once a union and employer enter into a collective bargaining agreement, election petitions are subject to a "contract bar." A contract of up to three years bars an election petition for the duration of thecontract.67 The election petition may be for a decertification election or for representation by another union.
In August 2007, the board issued a decision allowing an employer to withdraw recognition of a union after the third year of a longer-term contract. In January 1999, Shaw's Supermarkets entered into a five-year contract with the UFCW. After three years, amajority of employees signed a petition requesting a decertification election. Instead of going forward with a decertification election, Shaw's withdrew recognition of the union. The action was appealed to the NLRB.
Under current rules, neither the employer nor the incumbent union can initiate an election petition (requesting decertification or representation by another union) for the duration of a contract. Under a three-year "contract bar," employees or another union (but not theemployer or existing union) can file an election petition after three years of a contract of more than three years. Thus, the General Counsel of the NLRB argued that Shaw's should not be allowed to withdraw recognition of the union during the term of the five-year contract. By a vote of 2-1 the board disagreed with the General Counsel. The majority members of the board concluded that Shaw's had acted properly when it withdrew recognition of the union. The majority said that the employer reliedon evidence of a loss of majority support for the union (i.e., signatures of a majority of employees). The dissenting member said that the NLRB should have gone forward with a decertification election.68
Once a union is certified or recognized, the union and employerare not required to reach an initial contract agreement. When a union and employer cannot reach an agreement on a collective bargaining agreement, the dispute is called an impasse.69 An impasse may lead to a work stoppage. Workers may strike or the employer may lock out employees.70 Instead of resorting to a strike or lockout, a union and employer may use a neutral third party to help them reach a contract agreement. A neutral third party may be used to reach an agreement on either an initial or successor contract.
When mediation is used to resolve a collective bargaining impasse, a mediator tries to help the union and employer reach anagreement.71 A mediator does not have the authority to impose a settlement on the parties. Instead, a mediator can help the two sides reach an agreement by defining the issues underlying the impasse, identifying alternative solutions, and suggesting areas where the parties cancompromise.72
In arbitration, the union and employer each present their positions to an arbitrator who decides how the issues will be resolved. Arbitration can take different forms. In grievance or "rights" arbitration, an arbitrator resolves disputes over the terms and conditions of an existing collective bargainingagreement. In contract or "interest" arbitration, an arbitrator determines the terms and conditions of an initial or successor contract.
Interest arbitration can take different forms: voluntary or compulsory, conventional or final-offer, and binding or nonbinding. In addition, in final-offer arbitration, the arbitrator may choose between the complete final offers of the employer and union (i.e., the entire package) or between the final offers from each side on each issue.
- Voluntaryversus compulsory. In voluntary interest arbitration, the union and employer agree to use arbitration to resolve a bargaining impasse. With compulsory arbitration, the law requires the parties to use arbitration.
- Conventional versus final-offer. In conventional arbitration, the arbitrator is free to decide on a final contract agreement. The settlement may be a compromise between each side's final offer, or the arbitrator may choose the final offer from either one of theparties. With final-offer arbitration, the arbitrator must choose either the union's or the employer's final offer.
- Package versus issue-by-issue arbitration. In final-offer arbitration, the arbitrator may be required to choose the complete final offer (i.e., package) of either the union or the employer. Alternatively, the arbitrator may be allowed to choose between the final offers from each side on eachissue.73
- Binding versus nonbinding. In binding arbitration, the arbitrator's decision is imposed on both parties. With nonbinding arbitration, the parties may choose to accept or reject the decision of the arbitrator.74
Thedifferent forms of arbitration can be combined. For example, conventional arbitration may be voluntary or compulsory. Final-offer arbitration may be binding or nonbinding.
Med-Arb combines the role of mediator and arbitrator.75 As a mediator, a neutral third party tries to facilitate an agreement. If the parties cannotreach a settlement, the neutral party becomes the arbitrator and decides on a settlement. With Med-Arb, a neutral party's recommendations for a settlement may become the settlement that is imposed. Knowing this, the parties may be more willing to negotiate an agreement.76
Advantages and Disadvantages of Interest Arbitration in ResolvingBargaining Impasses
The use of interest arbitration to resolve bargaining impasses has occurred mainly in the public sector, where the right to strike is generally limited or prohibited. In the private sector, the legal right of employees to strike and of employers to lock out employees can encourage the parties to reach a contract agreement.77 Nevertheless, in theprivate sector, a union and employer may voluntarily agree to use interest arbitration to settle bargaining impasses.78
The use of interest arbitration in contract negotiations may have both advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage is that it may deter or prevent a strike or lockout. The main disadvantages are that it may change negotiatingbehavior and may become the normal way to settle bargaining impasses.
When a union and employer reach a bargaining impasse, they can resort to mediation or arbitration. But employers can also lock out employees or workers can go on strike. The main reason for using interest arbitration to resolve contract disputes is to avoid the use of strikes or lockouts. A strike over wages, hours, or working conditions is called an economic strike.Employers can permanently replace striking workers. Replaced workers can only be rehired when jobs become available.79 Thus, a strike can impose costs on both workers and employers.
An adverse effect of interest arbitration is that it may have a "chilling" effect on negotiations. The availability of interestarbitration to resolve bargaining impasses may affect the willingness of the two sides to engage in serious bargaining. If either side believes that it can gain a better settlement through arbitration than through negotiation, it may not bargain seriously. If the parties expect an arbitrator to split the difference between their final offers, they may take extreme positions during negotiations and be unwilling to compromise.
A secondadverse effect of interest arbitration is that it may have a "narcotic" effect on contract negotiations.Interest arbitration may become habit-forming. If negotiations over a contract end with binding arbitration, the parties may come to rely on it and not engage in serious negotiations on future contracts.80
Possible Responsesto the Chilling and Narcotic Effect ofArbitration
A common criticism of conventional arbitration is that it may prevent the parties from engaging in serious negotiations. Each side may take an extreme position and may not make the kinds of compromises needed for a negotiated settlement.81 One proposal for dealing with the chilling effect of conventionalarbitration is to require final-offer arbitration. The argument for using final-offer arbitration is that, if an arbitrator is limited to selecting the last offer of either the union or employer, each side may be more willing to make an offer that it believes will be acceptable to the arbitrator. If both parties are more willing to compromise, they may also reach a contract settlement on theirown.82
Under final-offer arbitration, the arbitrator could be restricted to choosing between the complete final offer of either the union or employer. Alternatively, the arbitrator could be allowed to choose between the final offers of each party on eachissue.83 The latter approach would give an arbitrator greater discretion in fashioning the terms of an agreement and may also encourage the parties to bargain and make concessions on each issue.84
The NLRA does not include a statutory exemption for small businesses. However, the NLRB does not certify bargaining units of only one employee. Nor does it assert jurisdiction over employers with annual revenues or sales below certain standards.
Size of Bargaining Unit
The board does not certify a bargaining unit that consists of only one employee. The principle of collective bargaining presupposes that there is more than one employee who wants tobargain collectively.85
The NLRB has statutory jurisdiction over employers whose operations affect interstate commerce. Thus, the board can certify the results of an election where the employer's operations affectcommerce.86 However, in addition to this statutory requirement, the NLRB has established administrative standards that an employer must meet before the board will assert jurisdiction over a question of union representation. These jurisdictional standards are generally based on an employer's annual sales or gross revenue. For example, a retail business must have annual salesof at least $500,000 before the board will assert jurisdiction. Hotels and motels must have at least $500,000 in gross revenues. A nonretail business must have either $50,000 in annual direct or indirect sales to buyers in other states or make $50,000 in direct or indirect purchases from sellers in other states. Private colleges and symphony orchestras must have at least $1 million in annualrevenue.87 These standards have been in effect since August 1, 1959.
The board's ability to establish jurisdictional standards was codified by the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, which added Section 14(c)(1) to the NLRA (29 U.S.C. 164(c)(1)). In part, Section 14(c)(1) states:
The Board, in its discretion, may ... decline to assertjurisdiction over any labor dispute involving any class or category of employers, where, in the opinion of the Board, the effect of such labor dispute on commerce is not sufficiently substantial to warrant the exercise of its jurisdiction: Provided, That the Board shall not decline to assert jurisdiction over any labor dispute over which it would assert jurisdiction under the standards prevailing upon August 1, 1959.
In other words, the board must assert jurisdiction over a labordispute where the employer meets the jurisdictional standards that were in effect on August 1, 1959 (provided the employer's operations affect commerce). But the board may decline to assert jurisdiction over a labor dispute that does not have a substantial effect on interstate commerce.
If the board does not assert jurisdiction over smaller employers, employees at these companies may be able to unionize through other means. An employer could voluntarily recognize a union if amajority of employees sign authorization cards or a secret ballot election could be supervised by a third party other than the NLRB. In addition, Section 14(c)(2) of the NLRA (29 U.S.C. 164(c)(2)) states, in part:
Nothing in this subchapter shall be deemed to prevent or bar any agency or the courts of any State or Territory ... from assuming and asserting jurisdiction over labor disputes over which the Board declines ... to assert jurisdiction.
A report by the GovernmentAccountability Office (GAO) estimated that, in February 2001, because of the jurisdictional standards, 5 million employees of small employers do not have collective bargaining rights under the NLRA (excluding supervisors and managers who are excluded by statute from coverage under the NLRA).88 If more recent data were used, the 5million estimate could be higher orlower today. Because the dollar amounts for the jurisdictional standards are not adjusted for inflation, employers who met the standards in 1959 would probably not meet them today. On the other hand, there are more businesses today, many of which would meet the standards.
Potential Effects of Changes in Union CertificationProcedures
In recent Congresses, legislation has been introduced that, if enacted, would change current union certificationprocedures. Some proposals would require the NLRB to certify a union if a majority of employees signed authorization cards. Other legislation would require secret ballot selections.89 This section summarizes the most common arguments made in favor of requiring secret ballot elections and the most common arguments made in support of card checkcertification.90 These changes could affect the level of unionization in the United States.91 The section also reviews research on the effects of different union certification procedures on union success rates.
Supporters and opponents of cardcheck certification sometimes use similar language to support of their positions. Employers argue that, under card check certification, employees may be pressured or coerced into signing authorization cards and that employees may only hear the union's point of view. On the other hand, unions argue that during an election campaign, employers may pressure or coerce employees into voting against a union. Proponents of secret ballot elections argue that unlike signing an authorization card, castinga secret ballot is private and confidential. Unions argue that during an election campaign, employers have greater access to employees (e.g., captive audience meetings and access to employees on company property). Unions argue that card check certification is less costly than a secret ballot election. But employers maintain that unionization may be more costly to employees, because union members must pay dues and higher union wages may result in fewer union jobs. (See Table 3.)
Little research has been done comparing the effects of requiring card check certification versus the effects of requiring secret ballot elections. The researchthat exists, however, suggests that changes in union recognition procedures could affect the level of unionization in the United States. Research suggests that the union success rate is greater with card check certification than with secret ballots. Unions also undertake more unionization drives under card check certification. The union success rate under card check certification is greater when a card check campaign is combined with a neutrality agreement.
Table 3. Common Arguments Made by Proponents of Requiring Card Check Certification and Requiring Secret Ballots
Proponents of Requiring
Proponents of Requiring
Card check certification requires signatures from more than 50% of bargaining unit employees. A secret ballot election is decided by a majority of workers voting.
Casting a secret ballot is private and confidential. A secret ballot election is conducted by the NLRB. Under card check certification, authorization cards are controlled by the union.
During a secret ballot campaign, the employer has greater access to employees.
Under card check certification, employees may only hear the union's point of view.
Because of potential employer pressure or intimidation during a secret ballot election, some workers may feel coerced into voting against a union.
Because of potential union pressure or intimidation, some workers may feel coerced into signing authorization cards.
Employer objections can delay a secret ballot election.
Most secret ballot elections are held soon after a petition is filed.
Allegations against a union for unfair labor practices can be addressed under existing law. Existing remedies do not deter employer violations of unfair labor practices.
Allegations against an employer for unfair labor practices can be addressed under existing law. Existing remedies do not deter union violations of unfair labor practices.
Card check certification is less costly for both the union and employer. If secret ballot elections were required, the NLRB would have to devote more resources to conducting elections.
Union members must pay union dues. Unionization may result in fewer union jobs.
Neutrality agreements and card check certification may lead to more cooperative labor-management relations.
An employer may be pressured by a corporate campaign into accepting a neutrality agreements and card check certification. If an employer accepts a neutrality agreement, employees who do not want a union may hesitate to speak out.
Source: Table compiled by CRS.
Evidence from Canada suggests that the union success rate is higher under automatic card check recognition than under secret ballots. In Canada, each of the 10 provinces has laws governing union recognition.92 In 1976, all 10 provinces allowed card check recognition. Beginning with NovaScotia in 1977, five provinces currently require secret ballot elections.93 British Columbia changed from card check recognition to requiring secret ballot elections in 1984, repealed mandatory voting in 1993, and restored mandatory voting in 2001.94Under mandatory voting a union must receive a majority of votes in a secret ballot election to be recognized as the bargaining agent. Under card check recognition, a union is automatically recognized if the number of employees who sign authorization cards meets a minimum threshold. In general, a union is automatically recognized if more than 50% to 65% of employees, depending on the province, sign authorizationcards.95
A study of the union success rate under mandatory voting and automatic card check recognition concluded that the union success rate in Canada is nine percentage points higher under card check recognition than under secret ballots. The study examined 171 union organizing campaigns between 1978 and 1996 in nineprovinces.96
In the province of British Columbia, union recognition based on card checks was allowed until 1984. From 1984 through 1992, union certification required a secret ballot election. Card checks were again allowed beginning in 1993. (As noted above, mandatory voting resumed in 2001.) The union success rate fell almost 19 percentage points (from 93.1% to74.5%) after mandatory voting was adopted in 1984 and increased by about the same amount when card check recognition was reinstated in 1993. In addition, during the period when mandatory voting was in effect, there were about 50% fewer attempts to organize workers. After 1993, the number of union organizing drives did not return to their pre-1984 levels.97
In theprovince of Ontario, card check recognition was allowed before 1995. Since November 1995, secret balloting is required. A study of 3,564 certification applications before and after the switch to secret ballots found that the certification rate was higher with the use of card checks. After the change to secret ballots, the union success rate fell from 72.7% to 64.3%. On the other hand, under secret balloting, larger bargaining units were organized. The average size of units certified under secretballoting was 63.1 workers, compared to an average of 36.3 employees under card check recognition. The average size of the bargaining units where organizing drives were held was also larger after secret balloting was initiated; 63.1 workers versus 39.7 workers under card check recognition. Under card check recognition, a union was certified if 55% of employees signed cards. Under secret balloting, elections are normally held within five working days after the date of an application. The studyincluded both private and public sector employers, but excluded the construction industry.98
A study based on unionization in Canada concluded that each one percentage point increase in unionization raised the short-term unemployment rate by 0.30 to 0.35 percentage points. The study was based in union membership data in the 10 Canadian provinces over the period from1976 to 1997.99
Evidence also suggests that card check recognition may be more successful under a neutrality agreement. A study of union organizing drives in the United States concluded that union success rates are higher when a card check agreement is combined with a neutrality agreement. The study examined 57 card check agreements involving 294 organizing drives.Unions had a success rate of 78.2% in drives where card check recognition was combined with a neutrality agreement and a 62.5% success rate in cases where there was only a card check agreement.100
The union success rate may be higher under card check recognition because, in part, employers have less of an opportunity to campaign against unionization. Unions mayinitiate more organizing drives under card check recognition because a card check campaign costs less than a secret ballot election. A secret ballot election may take longer than a card check campaign and employer opposition may be greater (requiring a union to expend more resources).101 Unions may have a higher success rate when card check recognition is combined with aneutrality agreement because there may be less employer opposition to unionization under a neutrality agreement. (Some research has concluded that management opposition is a key factor affecting union success rates in NLRB conducted elections.)102
Requiring card check certification if a majority of employees sign authorization cards may increase the union successrate. Whether or not requiring card check certification would reverse the decline in private sector unionization in the United States is not certain. Shrinking employment in unionized firms and decertifications may offset any increase in union membership due to requiring card check recognition. In addition, requiring card check recognition may increase employer opposition during the collection of authorization cards.
According to anannual Gallup poll, Americans are generally supportive of unions. The latest poll, from August 2008, concluded that 59% of Americans approve, while 31% disapprove, of unions.103
According to a March 2009 Gallup poll, 53% of Americans favor a law that would make it easier for labor unions to organize; 39% of those polled said they opposed such a law; and 8% said theyhad no opinion.104
According to a poll from Rasmussen Reports, also from March 2009, 33% of respondents agreed that Congress should change the law to make it easier for workers to form or join a union; 40% disagreed and 27% were not sure. Sixty-one percent of respondents agreed when asked the following question: "Under current law, if enough workers express interestin forming a union, a secret ballot is held. Is it fair to require a secret ballot to determine if workers want to form a union?" Thirty-two percent of respondents agreed to the following question: "Some people believe that a secret ballot vote is not necessary and that a union should be formed whenever a majority of workers sign a card saying they want one. If a majority of a company's workers sign a card saying they want to form a union, is it fair to form a union without having a vote?" Atthe same time, 57% of respondents thought that it is "very difficult" or "somewhat difficult" to form a union.105
Two other surveys provide information about secret ballot elections and card check recognition.106 According to a March 2006survey conducted for the Center for Union Facts (a business group), 75% of 1,000 persons surveyed said that they believe that a secret ballot election is the most fair and democratic way for employees to decide whether or not to join a union. By contrast, 12% of respondents said that card check recognition is the most fair and democratic way to form a union.107 Accordingto a 2005 survey conducted by American Rights at Work (a labor group), 22% of 430 workers who had gone through a union organizing campaign said that they experienced a "great deal" of pressure from management. By contrast, 6% of workers said that they experienced a great deal of union pressure. Among workers who signed authorization cards in the presence of a union organizer, 5% said that the presence of the organizer made them feel pressure to sign thecards.108
Is There an Economic Rationale for Protecting theRights of Workers to Organize and BargainCollectively?
The NLRA gives private sector workers the right to organize and bargain collectively over wages, hours, and other working conditions. It also requires employers to bargain in good faith with a union chosenby a majority of employees. The act says that the purpose of the law is to improve the bargaining power of workers. This section considers whether there is an economic rationale for protecting the rights of workers to organize and bargain collectively.
Government Intervention in Labor Markets
Governments may intervene in labor markets for a number of reasons. One of these reasons is to improvecompetition.109 According to standard economic theory, competitive markets generally result in the most efficient allocation of resources, where resources consist of individuals with different skills, capital goods (i.e., buildings and equipment and associated technology), and natural resources. In turn, an efficient allocation of resources generally results in greatertotal output and consumer satisfaction.
In competitive labor markets workers are paid according to the value of their contribution to output. Under perfect competition, wages include compensation for unfavorable working conditions. The latter theory, called the "theory of compensating wage differentials," recognizes that individuals differ in their preferences or tolerance for different working conditions—such as health and safety conditions, hours worked, holidays and annual leave, andjob security.110
If labor markets do not fit the model of perfect competition, increasing the bargaining power of workers may raise wages, improve benefits (e.g., for health care and retirement), and improve working conditions to levels that would exist under competitive conditions. In labor markets where a firm is the only employer (called a monopsony)unionization could, within limits, increase both wages and employment.111
On the other hand, increasing the bargaining power of employees in competitive labor markets may result in a misallocation of resources—and reduce total economic output and consumer satisfaction. In competitive labor markets, higher union wages may reduce employment for union workers below thelevels that would exist in the absence of unionization.112 If unions lower employment in the unionized sector, they may increase the supply of workers to employers in the nonunion sector, lowering the relative wages of nonunion workers.113
Itis difficult, however, to determine the competitiveness of labor markets. First, identifying the appropriate labor market may be difficult. Labor markets can be local (e.g., for unskilled labor), regional, national, or international (e.g., for managerial and professional workers). Second, measuring the competitiveness of labor markets is difficult. Finally, labor markets may change over time because of demographic, economic, technological, or otherchanges.114
Distribution of Earnings
A second reason governments may intervene in labor markets is to reduce earnings inequality.115 Competitive labor markets may allocate resources efficiently, but theymay result in a distribution of earnings that some policymakers find unacceptable. Unionization may be a means of reducing earnings inequality. Some economists argue that, during a recession, greater earnings equality may increase aggregate demand and, therefore, reduce unemployment.
Finally, some economists maintain that unions give workers a "voice" in the workplace. According to this argument, unions provide workers an additional wayto communicate with management. For instance, instead of expressing their dissatisfaction with an employer by quitting, workers can use dispute resolution or formal grievance procedures to resolve issues relating to pay, working conditions, or other matters.116
The economic impact of requiring card check certificationor secret ballot elections may rest on the desired objectives of policymakers.
By bargaining collectively, unionized workers may obtain higher wages, improved benefits, and better working conditions than if each worker bargained individually.117 But, depending on how well labor markets fit the model of perfect competition, collective bargaining may improve or harmthe allocation of resources (i.e., economic efficiency). If labor markets are competitive, increasing the bargaining power of workers may reduce economic output and consumer satisfaction, but may increase equality. On the other hand, if labor markets are not competitive, increasing the bargaining power of workers may improve the allocation of resources as well as increaseequality.118
By requiring card check certification, the number of organizing campaigns and the union success rate may increase. Conversely, by requiring secret ballot elections, the number of organizing drives and the union success rate may decline. Thus, compared with existing recognition procedures, requiring secret ballot elections may lower the level ofunionization, whereas requiring card check certification may raise it. Accordingly, depending on the competitiveness of labor markets, requiring card check certification may either improve or harm economic efficiency. Similarly, requiring secret ballot elections may either improve or harm efficiency. If either change were enacted, it may be difficult, however, to predict or measure the size of the effects.
Regardless of the competitiveness of labor markets, requiring secret ballotelections may increase earnings inequality—if fewer workers are unionized. Requiring card check certification may reduce inequality—if more workers are unionized. Again, the size of the effects may be difficult to predict or measure.
The NLRA is also known as the Wagner Act, after Senator Robert Wagner of New York who sponsored the bill in the U.S. Senate. Representative William Connery of Massachusetts sponsored the bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.
For more information on the NLRA, see CRS Report R42526, Federal Labor Relations Statutes: An Overview, by [author name scrubbed], [author name scrubbed], and [author name scrubbed].
More specifically, the NLRA applies to employers engaged in interstate commerce. 29 U.S.C. §152(6).
29 U.S.C. §151. Many economists argue that there is not an inequality of bargaining power between employers and employees. For example, see Morgan O. Reynolds, Power and Privilege: Labor Unions in America, New York: Universe Books, 1984, pp. 59-62; and Morgan O. Reynolds, "The Myth of Labor's Inequality of Bargaining Power," Journal of Labor Research, vol. 12, spring 1991, pp. 168-183. The argument that workers and employers have equal bargaining power is generallybased on the premise that labor markets fit the economic model of perfect competition. See the section later in this report on whether there is an economic rationale for protecting the rights of workers to organize and bargain collectively.
National Labor Relations Board, Basic Guide to the National Labor Relations Act (Washington: GPO, 1997), pp. 1, 17, https://www.nlrb.gov/sites/default/files/documents/224/basicguide.pdf. (Hereinafter cited as NLRB, Basic Guide to the NLRA.)
The Labor Management Relations Act of 1947 (P.L. 80-101, commonly called the Taft-Hartley Act)amended the NLRA to add language that employees have the right to refrain from joining a union, unless a collective bargaining agreement with a union security agreement is in effect. A union security agreement may require bargaining unit employees to join the union after being hired (i.e., a union shop) or, if the employee is not required to join the union, to pay a representation fee to the union (i.e., an agency shop). Under Section 14(b) of the Taft-Hartley Act, states may enact right-to-worklaws, which do not allow contracts to include a union security agreement. Michael Ballot, Laurie Lichter-Heath, Thomas Kail, and Ruth Wang, Labor-Management Relations in a Changing Environment, New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 1992, pp. 265-268. (Hereinafter cited as Ballot et al., Labor-Management Relations in a Changing Environment.)
NLRB, Basic Guide to the NLRA, p. 37. In a 1984 decision (Sure-Tan, Inc. v. NLRB, 467 U.S. 883), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the definition of employee in the NLRA does not exclude unauthorized workers. Thus, unauthorized workers can engage in union organizing and collective bargaining, can vote in NLRB elections, and are protected from unfair labor practices. But, the Supreme Court has also ruled that unauthorized workers cannot be awarded backpay as theresult of violations of unfair labor practices. See CRS Report RS21186, Hoffman Plastic Compounds v. NLRB and Backpay Awards to Undocumented Aliens (pdf), by [author name scrubbed].
Bruce S. Feldacker, Labor Guide to Labor Law, 3rd ed. (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1990), pp. 39-44. (Hereinafter cited as Feldacker, Labor Guide to Labor Law.)
NLRB, Basic Guide to the NLRA, p. 33. William N. Cooke, Union Organizing and Public Policy: Failure to Secure First Contracts (Kalamazoo, MI: W.E. Upjohn Institute, 1985), p. 85.
National Labor Relations Board, Specialty Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center of Mobile and United Steelworkers, District 9, 356 NLRB No. 56 (2011), pp. 8-13, http://nlrb.gov/case/15-RC-008773#casedetails.
The CNAs voted for union representation. United Steel Workers, District 9, http://www.usw.org/.
An authorization card may serve more than one purpose. A single-purpose card authorizes the union to represent the employee signing the card. A dual-purpose card designates the union as the employees' bargaining representative and requests an election. The NLRB may not issue a bargaining order (see "Bargaining Orders" later in this report) if a union uses dual-purpose cards. Dual-purpose cards could indicate that a majority of employees want an election, but not that a majority ofemployees want to be represented by a union. Commerce Clearing House, Labor Law Reporter: Labor Relations (Chicago: CCH Inc., 2007), ¶ 3042. Bruce S. Feldacker, Labor Guide to Labor Law, 3rd ed. (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1990), p. 72. (Hereinafter cited as Feldacker, Labor Guide to Labor Law.)
Unless noted otherwise, this section is based on Stephen I. Schlossberg and Judith A. Scott, Organizing and the Law, 4th ed., Washington: Bureau of National Affairs, 1991, pp. 45-55. (Hereinafter cited as Schlossberg and Scott, Organizing and the Law.) James J. Brudney, Neutrality Agreements and Card Check Recognition: Prospects for Changing Paradigms, Public Law and Legal Theory Working Paper Series No. 28, November 2004, p. 8,http://law.bepress.com/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1002&context=osulwps. (Herineafter cited as Brudney, Neutrality Agreements and Card Check Recognition.) Feldacker, Labor Guide to Labor Law, pp. 74-79.
The Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 amended the NLRA to add Section 8(c), which gives employers and unions the right to express their views on unionization, provided such "expression contains no threat of reprisal or force or promise of benefit." For a legal history of this provision, see Kate E. Andrias, "A Robust Public Debate: Realizing Free Speech in Workplace Representation Elections, Yale Law Journal, vol. 112, June 2003, pp. 2419-2432.
In a December 2007 decision, the board ruled that an employer's e-mail system is the employer's property and that employees do not have a statutory right to use their work e-mail for union activities. National Labor Relations Board, The Guard Publishing Company d/b/a The Register-Guard and Eugene Newspaper Guild, CWA Local 37194, 351 NLRB 1110, pp. 1110, 1114, 1116 (2007),http://www.nlrb.gov/case/36-CA-008743.
National Labor Relations Board, Office of the General Counsel, Report on Case Developments, May 15, 2008, https://www.nlrb.gov/publications/general-counsel-memos?memo_date=2008.
Comment, "Labor Law Reform: The Regulation of Free Speech and Equal Access in NLRB Representation Elections," University of Pennsylvania Law Review, vol. 127, January 1979, p. 768.
Under what is known as the "Excelsior" rule, within seven days after the NLRB has directed that a representation election be held or after a union and employer have agreed to hold an election, an employer must provide the regional director of the NLRB a list of the names and addresses of employees eligible to vote in the election. This list is made available to all parties. National Labor Relations Board, Office of the General Counsel, An Outline of Law and Procedures inRepresentation Cases, (Washington: GPO, April 2002) p. 251. U.S. Departments of Labor and Commerce, Fact Finding Report: Commission on the Future of Worker-Management Relations, May 1994, p. 68, http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1279&context=key_workplace. The latter report is popularly called the "Dunlopreport," after former Secretary of Labor John T. Dunlop, who chaired the commission. (Hereinafter cited as John T. Dunlop, Fact Finding Report: Commission on the Future of Worker-Management Relations.)
NLRB, Basic Guide to the NLRA, pp. 14-22.
Ibid., pp. 23-32.
National Labor Relations Board, Annual Report of the National Labor Relations Board, for the Fiscal Year Ended September 30, 2009 (Washington: GPO, February 24, 2010), p. 4, http://www.nlrb.gov/sites/default/files/documents/119/nlrb2009.pdf. (Hereinafter cited as NLRB, Annual Report, Fiscal Year 2009.) NLRB, Basic Guide to the NLRA, p.36.
29 U.S.C. §160(c). NLRB, Basic Guide to the NLRA, p. 38.
The amount of backpay awarded is "net backpay" plus interest. Net backpay is the amount of compensation (i.e., wages plus benefits) that a worker would have received if he or she had not been unlawfully fired less the amount of compensation received (less the expenses from looking for work) from other work during the backpay period. If a discharged employee is able to work but does not look for work,compensation that he or she could have received from work may be deducted from gross backpay. National Labor Relations Board, NLRB Casehandling Manual, Part 3, Compliance Proceedings, §10536, http://www.nlrb.gov/sites/default/files/documents/44/compliancemanual.pdf.
In a May 2007 memorandum, the General Counsel of the NLRB directed that interest on net backpayshould be compounded interest. Previously, interest on backpay was simple interest. Office of the General Counsel, Seeking Compound Interest on Board Monetary Remedies, Memorandum GC 07-07, May 2, 2007, http://www.nlrb.gov/publications/general-counsel-memos.
In a September 2007 decision, the board ruled that if a worker who is fired for union activities does not start to look for workwithin two weeks of being fired, backpay does not begin to accrue until the worker starts to look for work. Grosvenor Resort, 350 NLRB 1197, p. 1199 (2007), http://www.nlrb.gov/case/12-CA-018190.
In FY2012, NLRB collected $44.3 million in backpay. National Labor Relations Board, General Counsel, Summary of Operations: Fiscal Year 2012,Memorandum GC 13-01, January 11, 2013, http://mynlrb.nlrb.gov/link/document.aspx/09031d4580f0fee7. (Hereinafter cited as NLRB, Summary of Operations: FY2012.)
John Schmitt and Ben Zipperer, Dropping the Ax: Illegal Firings During Union Election Campaigns, 1951-2007, Center for Economic and Policy Research, March 2009, p. 10, http://www.cepr.net/documents/publications/dropping-the-ax-2009-03.pdf. John T. Dunlop, Fact Finding Report: Commission on the Future of Worker-Management Relations, pp. 69-70, 84. For acritique of the study by Schmitt and Zipperer, see U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Labor, Immigration and Employee Benefits Division, Responding to Union Rhetoric: The Reality of the American Workplace, 2009, http://www.uschamber.com/sites/default/files/reports/0908_unionstudies_coercion.pdf. (Hereinafter cited as U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Responding to UnionRhetoric: The Reality of the American Workplace.)
Kate Bronfenbrenner, Uneasy Terrain: The Impact of Capital Mobility on Workers, Wages and Union Organizing, U.S. Trade Deficit Review Commission, 2000, p. 743, http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1002&context=reports. For a critique of this study, see U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Responding to Union Rhetoric:The Reality of the American Workplace.
National Labor Relations Board, Performance and Accountability Report, FY2012, http://www.nlrb.gov/reports-guidance/reports/performance-and-accountability, p. 49.
U.S. Supreme Court, "National Labor Relations Board v. Gissel Packing Co., Inc.," United States Reports, vol. 395 (Washington: GPO, 1969), pp. 593-594, 609. (Hereinafter cited as U.S. Supreme Court, NLRB v. Gissel Packing.) In NLRB v. Gissel Packing, the U.S. Supreme Court consolidated four NLRB cases. In each case, a majority of employees signed authorization cards. The employer refused to bargain, arguing that authorization cards are inherentlyunreliable. The NLRB concluded that the employers committed unfair labor practices that made a fair election unlikely and ordered the employers to bargain with the respective unions. U.S. Supreme Court, NLRB v. Gissel Packing, pp. 575-595.
29 U.S.C. §159(c). NLRB, Annual Report, Fiscal Year 2009, p. 29. National Labor Relations Board, The NLRB: What it is, What it Does, National Labor Relations Board, p. 3, http://www.nlrb.gov. U.S. Supreme Court, NLRB v. Gissel Packing, pp. 593-594, 609. NLRB, Basic Guide to the NLRA, p. 8.
Some evidence indicates that within three years of winning an election, approximately one-fourth of unions have not reached a first contract with the employer. Thomas F. Reed, "Union Attainment of First Contracts: Do Service Unions Possess a Competitive Advantage?" Journal of Labor Research, vol. 11, fall 1990, pp., 426, 430. William N. Cooke, "The Failure to Negotiate First Contacts: Determinants and Policy Implications," Industrial and Labor Relations Review,vol. 38, January 1985, p. 170.
NLRB, Basic Guide to the NLRA, pp. 8-9. National Labor Relations Board, NLRB Rules and Regulations, §102.67, http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ecfr&sid=14fc6dc47b3466d9d515edc695d76cef&rgn=div8&view=text&node=29:126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52&idno=29.
NLRB, Basic Guide to the NLRA, p. 36.
NLRB, Annual Report, Fiscal Year 2009, pp. 4, 82, 85. 29 C.F.R. §102.69(a).
Schlossberg and Scott, Organizing and the Law, p. 176.
NLRB, Annual Report, Fiscal Year 2009, p. 29. National Labor Relations Board, The National Labor Relations Board and YOU: Representation Cases, p. 2, http://www.nlrb.gov. Feldacker, Labor Guide to Labor Law, p. 57. House, Committee on Education and the Workforce, Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations,H.R. 4343, Secret Ballot Protection Act of 2004, hearings, 108th Congress, second session, Serial No. 108-70, September 2004, Washington: GPO, p. 11. (Hereinafter cited as House Education and the Workforce, H.R. 4343, Secret Ballot Protection Act of 2004.)
National Labor Relations Board, "Representation Case Procedures," Federal Register, vol. 76, June 22, 2011, pp. 36812-36847.
National Labor Relations Board, "Representation Case Procedures," Federal Register, vol. 76, December 22, 2011, pp. 80138-80189.
The NLRA (Section 3(b)) allows the board to delegate decisions to a group of three or more members. When the revised election procedures were approved, there were two vacancies on the Board. Of the remaining three members, two members voted to adopt the final rule. The third member did not cast a vote. The District Court ruled that the Board did not have a three-member quorum when the final vote was taken. Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America and Coalition for aDemocratic Workplace v. National Labor Relations Board, Civil Action No. 11-2262, May 14, 2012.
Ibid., pp. 80141, 80185 (§102.66(a)).
Ibid., p. 80185 (§102.66(d)).
Ibid., p. 80177.
Ibid., pp. 80162, 80172-80173, 80184 (§102.65(c)).
Ibid., p. 80177.
Ibid., pp. 80158-80159, 80162, 80184 (§102.65(c)).
Ibid., p. 80139. National Labor Relations Board, Casehandling Manual, Part Two: Representation Proceedings, Section 11084, August 2007, http://www.nlrb.gov/sites/default/files/documents/44/chm2.pdf.
National Labor Relations Board, Statistical Tables, FY2010, Table 13, http://www.nlrb.gov/node/1696.
Ibid., Table 11A.
NLRB, Summary of Operations: FY2012.
One study of card check agreements found that, under some agreements, a union needed signatures from at least 65% of bargaining unit employees. Adrienne E. Eaton and Jill Kriesky, "Union Organizing Under Neutrality and Card Check Agreements," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, vol. 55, October 2001, p. 48. (Hereinafter cited as Eaton and Kriesky, Union Organizing Under Neutrality and Card Check Agreements.)
Eaton and Kriesky, Union Organizing Under Neutrality and Card Check Agreements, pp. 47-48. Charles I. Cohen, "Neutrality Agreements: Will the NRLB Sanction Its Own Obsolescence?" The Labor Lawyer, vol. 16, fall 2000, pp. 203-204. Brudney, Neutrality Agreements and Card Check Recognition, pp. 5-6.
It has been argued that, under the NLRA, neutrality and card check agreements, may be unlawful. See Arch Stokes, Robert L. Murphy, Paul E. Wagner, andDavid S. Sherwyn, "Neutrality Agreements: How Unions Organize New Hotels Without an Employee Ballot," Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly, vol. 42, October-November 2001, pp. 91-94. A counter argument can be found in Brudney, Neutrality Agreements and Card Check Recognition, pp. 28-53.
On November 13, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of UNITE HERE Local 355 v. Martin Mulhall; Hollywood Greyhound Track, Inc. d/b/a Mardi GrasGaming. The case involves a neutrality agreement between Mardi Gras Gaming and UNITE HERE Local 355. The employer agreed to recognize the union if a majority of employees signed authorization cards. The employer agreed not to oppose union representation, to let the union onto its property to talk to employees, and to give the union the names and addresses of employees. The union agreed not to strike, picket, or engage in other economic action against the employer while the neutrality agreementwas in effect. The union also agreed to provide financial support to a Florida state ballot initiative on casino gaming. The issue in the case is whether the agreement between the employer and union is a violation of Section 302 of the Labor Management Relations Act (i.e., the Taft-Hartley Act, 29 U.S.C. §186). Under Section 302, it is illegal for an employer to "pay, lend, or deliver" anything of value to a union or for a union to accept anything of value from an employer. (UNITE HERE Local355 v. Martin Mulhall; Hollywood Greyhound Track, Inc. d/b/a Mardi Gras Gaming, http://sblog.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/12-99-Mulhall-cert-petition.pdf, pp. 3-7. On December 10, 2013, the Court dismissed the case as "improvidently granted." Supreme Court of the United States, UNITE HERE Local 355, Petitioner v. Martin Mulhall et al.,No. 12–99, http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/13pdf/12-99_o7jp.pdf.
A union may engage in a corporate campaign to achieve other objectives, e.g., a contract agreement. Charles R. Perry, Union Corporate Campaigns (Philadelphia: Industrial Research Unit, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, 1987), pp. 1-8, 37-53.
For different views on corporate campaigns, see U.S. Congress, House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, Compulsory Union Dues and Corporate Campaigns, hearings,107th Cong., 2nd sess., July 23, 2002, Serial No. 107-74 (Washington: GPO, 2002). For a discussion of corporate campaigns published by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, see Jarol B. Manheim, Trends in Union Corporate Campaigns: A Briefing Book (Washington: U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 2005),http://www.uschamber.com/sites/default/files/reports/union_booklet_final_small.pdf.
Feldacker, Labor Guide to Labor Law, pp. 90-91.
Daniel Quinn Mills, Labor-Management Relations, 5th ed., New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1994, pp. 213-217. (Hereinafter cited as Mills, Labor-Management Relations.)
When enacted in 1935, Section 9(c) of the NLRA (P.L. 74-198) stated that whenever a question of employee representation arises the NLRB "may take a secret ballot of employees, or utilize any other suitable method to ascertain such representatives." Alternative methods of selection could include authorization cards, petitions, employee testimony, affidavits of union membership, participation in a strike, or acceptance of strike benefits. Whichever method was used, if a majority ofemployees chose to be represented by a union, the union would be certified by the NLRB. During the five years after the NLRA was enacted, the NLRB issued 897 certifications after an election and 272 certifications (or 23.3% of the total) without an election. According to Becker, from 1935 to 1939:
Certification depended upon proof presented at a trial-like hearing rather than the outcome of an election. An employee or union filed a petition requesting certification, the Board investigated,and, if it discovered "a question" concerning representation, held a hearing. At the hearing, if the union offered sufficient evidence that employees had "already chosen" to be represented, the Board would certify the union without an election.
By 1939, the NLRB only certified unions that had been chosen by a secret ballot election. This approach was written into law by the Taft-Hartley Act. The act amended Section 9(c) to say that the board "shall direct an election by secret ballot andshall certify the results thereof." The words "or utilize any other suitable method to ascertain such representatives" were removed. National Labor Relations Board, Legislative History of the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 (Washington: GPO, 1949), p. 3274. National Labor Relations Board, Legislative History of the Labor Management Relations Act, 1947 (Washington: GPO, 1985), p. 1670. Craig Becker, "Democracy in the Workplace: Union Representation Elections and FederalLabor Law," Minnesota Law Review, vol. 77, 1992, pp. 507-510. Alan Roberts McFarland and Wayne S. Bishop, Union Authorization Cards and the NLRB: A Study of Congressional Intent, Administrative Policy, and Judicial Review (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1969), pp. 12-14, 50. William B. Gould IV, A Primer on American Labor Law, 4th ed. (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004), p. 89.
Feldacker, Labor Guide to Labor Law, pp. 57, 139-140.
Feldacker, Labor Guide to Labor Law, p. 140.
Marie C. Grossman, "Labor Law—Employer's Duty to Bargain—Authorization Cards," Case Western Reserve Law Review, vol. 21, 1970, p. 308.
McFarland and Bishop, Union Authorization Cards and the NLRB, p. 55.
Michael Eugene Earwood and Herbert C. Ehrhardt, "Labor Law—Employer's Duty to Bargain on the Basis of Authorization Cards—Union Has the Burden of Seeking an NLRB Election," Mississippi Law Journal, vol. 46, 1975, p. 522. McFarland and Bishop, Union Authorization Cards and the NLRB, p. 55.
Joy Silk Mills, Inc., 85 NLRB 1263 (1949).
U.S. Supreme Court, NLRB v. Gissel Packing, pp. 591-592, 594.
U.S. Supreme Court, "Linden Lumber Division, Summer & Co. v. National Labor Relations Board," United States Reports, vol. 419 (Washington: GPO, 1974), p. 310.
National Labor Relations Board, Order Granting Review, 341 NLRB No. 150 (2004), http://www.nlrb.gov/cases-decisions/case-decisions/board-decisions.
National Labor Relations Board, Dana Corporation and United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America and Metaldyne Corporation and International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, 351 NLRB No. 28 (2007), pp. 1, 9-10, http://www.nlrb.gov/case/06-RD-001518#casedetails.
National Labor Relations Board, Lamons Gasket Company and United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, and Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union, 357 NLRB No. 72, p. 10 (2011), http://www.nlrb.gov/case/16-RD-001597.
In the Lee Lumber decision, the board determined that factors used to determine whether a reasonable period of time has passed include
(1) whether the parties are bargaining for an initial contract; (2) the complexity of the issues being negotiated and of the parties' bargaining processes; (3) the amount of time elapsed since bargaining commenced and the number of bargaining sessions; (4) the amount of progress made in negotiations and how near the parties are to concluding anagreement; and (5) whether the parties are at impasse.
Lee Lumber & Building Materials Corp., 334 NLRB 399, p. 402 (2001), https://www.nlrb.gov/case/13-CA-029377.
Letter from Representatives John Kline, Chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and David Roe, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, to Mark Pearce, Chairman of the National Labor Relations Board, October 14, 2011, http://edworkforce.house.gov/UploadedFiles/10-14-11_Kline_Roe_NLRB_Dana_Letter.pdf.
NLRB, Basic Guide to the NLRA, p. 10.
National Labor Relations Board, Shaw's Supermarkets, 350 NLRB 585 (2007), pp. 585-87, 591, http://www.nlrb.gov/cases-decisions/case-decisions/board-decisions.
John A. Fossum, Labor Relations: Development, Structure, and Process, Boston: McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2002, p. 377.
In a lockout, an employer closes the workplace to employees involved in a labor dispute. The workers are not allowed to work and are not paid. Mills, Labor-Management Relations, p. 436.
Instead of mediation, an employer and union may use conciliation, where a conciliator helps the two sides negotiate. If the two parties do not want to negotiate face-to-face, a conciliator can communicate to each side the position of the other party. Ballot et al., Labor-Management Relations in a Changing Environment, p. 364.
Mills, Labor-Management Relations, p. 449; Bruce E. Kaufman, The Economics of Labor Markets, 4th ed., Fort Worth: Dryden Press, 1994, p. 584-585 (Hereinafter cited as Kaufman, The Economics of Labor Markets.); Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, 2008 Annual Report, p. 3,http://fmcs.gov/assets/files/annual%20reports/FY2008_Annual_Report.pdf; Ballot et al., Labor-Management Relations in a Changing Environment, pp. 363-364.
Harry C. Katz and Thomas A. Kochan, An Introduction to Collective Bargaining and Industrial Relations, Boston: McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2nd ed., 2000, p. 226. (Hereinafter cited as Katz and Kochan, An Introduction to Collective Bargaining and Industrial Relations.)
Mills, Labor-Management Relations, p. 455.
Fact-finding is another form of dispute resolution. In fact-finding, a neutral third party prepares a report that identifies the areas of disagreement between the two parties and the positions of each side. A fact-finder may make recommendations for a settlement. Fact-finding can help negotiations by clarifying the facts in a dispute. The fact-finder's recommendations can serve as the basis of a settlement. Fact-finding may also subject negotiations to public scrutiny, encouragingboth sides to adopt more moderate positions. (Kaufman, The Economics of Labor Markets, p. 585; Mills, Labor-Management Relations, pp. 317-318.) Fact-finding is rarely used in the private sector, except to resolve labor disputes under the Railway Labor Act (RLA) and the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Both statutes include emergency dispute provisions to resolve bargaining impasses. Ballot et al., Labor-Management Relations in a Changing Environment, pp. 366-368.
Ballot et al., Labor-Management Relations in a Changing Environment, p. 365.
Kaufman, The Economics of Labor Markets, p. 584; Katz and Kochan, An Introduction to Collective Bargaining and Industrial Relations, p. 225.
An example of voluntary interest arbitration in the private sector occurred during three rounds of contract negotiations between the United Steelworkers of America (USW) and the major steel companies during the 1970s and early 1980s. The union and producers entered into an agreement, called the Experimental Negotiating Agreement (ENA), where the union and companies voluntarily agreed to submit certain unresolved contract issues to a neutral third party for binding arbitration.During the three rounds of negotiations, the two sides successfully negotiated all issues and arbitration was not used. The Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 extended collective bargaining rights to postal workers. In the case of a first contract, the act includes a provision for binding arbitration if an impasse lasts for more than 180 days after the start of bargaining. (J. Joseph Loewenberg, "Interest Arbitration: Past, Present, and Future," in Labor Arbitration Under Fire, ed. byJames L. Stern and Joyce M. Najita, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997, pp. 112, 115-116. (Hereinafter cited as Loewenberg, Interest Arbitration: Past, Present, and Future.) Section 1207(d) of Title 39 of the U.S. Code, relating to labor disputes in the Postal Service, states that, in the case of an initial contract agreement, the FMCS will appoint a mediator if the parties cannot reach an agreement within 90 days after collective bargaining has begun. The section goes on tostate that "if the parties fail to reach agreement within 180 days after the commencement of collective bargaining, and if they have not agreed to another procedure for binding resolution, an arbitration board shall be established to provide conclusive and binding arbitration." The statute states that an arbitration board shall consist of three members: one representing the Postal Service, one representing the employees, and a neutral third member.
In the case of an economic strike, employers may hire permanent replacement workers. When there are openings, strikers are entitled to be recalled to jobs for which they are qualified. National Labor Relations Board, Basic Guide to the National Labor Relations Act, http://www.nlrb.gov/nlrb/shared_files/brochures/basicguide.pdf, p. 4.
Harry S. Farber, "Splitting-the-Difference in Interest Arbitration," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, vol. 35, October 1981, p. 70; Loewenberg, Interest Arbitration: Past, Present, and Future, pp. 117-118; Kaufman, The Economics of Labor Markets, p. 587; Ballot et al., Labor-Management Relations in a Changing Environment, p. 370.
James R. Chelius and James B. Dworkin, "An Economic Analysis of Final-Offer Arbitration as a Conflict Resolution Device," Journal of Conflict Resolution, vol. 24, June 1980, pp. 293-294.
Ballot et al., Labor-Management Relations in a Changing Environment, p. 371.
Loewenberg, Interest Arbitration: Past, Present, and Future, pp. 117-118; Kaufman, The Economics of Labor Markets, pp. 587-588.
Ballot et al., Labor-Management Relations in a Changing Environment, p. 371.
National Labor Relations Board, "Appropriate Unit: General Principles," Outline of Law and Procedure in Representation Cases, Chapter 12, p. 130, http://www.nlrb.gov/sites/default/files/documents/44/rc_outline_2008_full.pdf.
Although a business may not sell directly to consumers in another state or buy from businesses in another state, its operations my nevertheless affect commerce. For example, the operations of a manufacturer that sells all of its goods to a retailer in the same state may affect commerce if that retailer sells to consumers in another state. NLRB, Basic Guide to the NLRA, p. 33.
NLRB, Basic Guide to the NLRA, pp. 33-34. National Labor Relations Board, "Jurisdiction," Outline of Law and Procedure in Representation Cases, Chapter 1, pp. 1-15, http://www.nlrb.gov/sites/default/files/documents/44/rc_outline_2008_full.pdf.
U.S. Government Accountability Office, Collective Bargaining Rights: Information on the Number of Workers with and Without Bargaining Rights, GAO-02-835, September 2002, pp. 11-12, 26-27 http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d02835.pdf.
In the 113th Congress, the Secret Ballot Protection Act (H.R. 2346) would make it an unfair labor practice for an employer to recognize or bargain with a union that has not been selected by a majority of employees in a secret ballot election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The bill would make it an unfair labor practice for a union to cause orattempt to cause an employer to recognize or bargain with a union that has not been chosen by a majority of employees in a secret ballot election. Language from H.R. 2346 is also included in H.R. 2674, the Job Creation Act of 2013. The Secret Ballot Protection Act was also introduced in the112th Congress, as H.R. 972 in the House and S. 217 in the Senate.
In the 111th Congress, the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) was introduced in both the House (H.R. 1409) andSenate (S. 560). EFCA would have required the NLRB to certify a union if a majority of employees in a bargaining unit signed authorization cards designating the union as their bargaining representative. EFCA would have established a timetable for reaching a first contract agreement and increased the penalties for employer violations of certain unfair labor practices committed during a unionorganizing campaign or during negotiation of a first contract. For more information on EFCA, see CRS Report RS21887, The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), by [author name scrubbed].
The arguments for and against requiring card check certification and secret ballot elections are considered in House, Committee on Education and the Workforce, Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations, H.R. 4343, Secret Ballot Protection Act of 2004.
For a discussion of union membership trends in the United States, see CRS Report RL32553, Union Membership Trends in the United States (pdf), by [author name scrubbed].
Gary N. Chaison and Joseph B. Rose, "The Canadian Perspective on Workers' Rights to Form a Union and Bargain Collectively," Edited by Sheldon Friedman, Richard W. Hurd, Rudolph A. Oswald, and Ronald L. Seeber, in Restoring the Promise of American Labor Law (Ithaca, NY: ILR Press, 1994), p. 244.
The five Canadian provinces that currently require secret ballot elections are Alberta, British Columbia, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and Ontario. Keith Godin, Milagros Palacios, Jason Clemens, Niels Veldhuis, and Amela Karabegovic, "An Empirical Comparison of Labour Relations Laws in Canada and the United States," Centre for Labour Market States, No. 2, May 2006,http://www.fraserinstitute.org/publicationdisplay.aspx?id=12808&terms=An+Empirical+Comparison+of+Labour+Relations+Laws+in+Canada+and+the+United+States, p. 10. (Hereinafter cited as Godin et al., An Empirical Comparison of Labour Relations Laws in Canada and the United States.) Susan Johnson,"The Impact of Mandatory Votes on the Canada-U.S. Union Density Gap: A Note," Industrial Relations, vol. 43, April 2004, p. 357.
Beginning in 1993, British Columbia eliminated the requirement for secret ballot elections. Union certification occurred when at least 55% of employees signed authorization cards. Elections were held if 45% to 55% of employees signed authorization cards. Elections were held within ten days, or a longer period if the election was conducted by mail. Canada, Human Resources and Social Development, Highlights of Major Developments in Labour Legislation (1992-1993),http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/en/lp/spila/clli/dllc/11_1992_1993.shtml. Beginning in 2001, secret ballot elections were required—when at least 45% of employees in a bargaining unit signed authorization cards. An election must be held within 10 days, or longer if the vote is conducted by mail. Canada, Human Resources and Social Development, Highlights of Major Developments in Labour Legislation(2000-2001), http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/eng/labour/labour_law/dllc/pdf/h00-01_e.pdf.
Godin et al., An Empirical Comparison of Labour Relations Laws in Canada and the United States, p. 11.
Susan Johnson, "Card Check or Mandatory Representation Vote? How the Type of Union Recognition Procedure Affects Union Certification Success," Economic Journal, vol. 112, pp. 355-359.
The data are based on 6,550 private sector union drives from 1978 to 1998. The calculations of the union success rate are for the six years before 1984—when card check recognition was in effect, the nine years from 1984 to 1992 when mandatory voting was in effect, and the six years from 1993 to 1998 after card check recognition was restored. Chris Riddell, "Union Certification Success Under Voting Versus Card-Check Procedures: Evidence from British Columbia, 1978-1998,"Industrial and Labor Relations Review, vol. 57, July 2004, pp. 493-494, 506-507, 510.
Sara Slinn, "An Empirical Analysis of the Effects of the Change from Card Check to Mandatory Vote Certification," Social Science Research Network (SSRN), http://www.papers.ssrn.com, pp. 4-6, 16, 23.
The study estimated the effect on the unemployment rate one year after an increase in union membership. Anne Layne-Farrar, "An Empirical Assessment of the Employee Free Choice Act: The Economic Implications," Social Science Research Network (SSRN), papers.ssrn.com, pp. 20-22, 35.
The success rate was measured as the percentage of organizing campaigns that resulted in union recognition. The results include some agreements in the public sector. Some of the agreements were with employers where a union represented other workers. Some of the agreements were with employers with whom the union had no existing bargaining relationship. Eaton and Kriesky, Union Organizing Under Neutrality and Card Check Agreements, pp. 45-48, 51-52.
Robert J. Flanagan, "Has Management Strangled U.S. Unions?," Journal of Labor Research, vol. 26, winter 2005, p. 51.
Richard B. Freeman and Morris M. Kleiner, "Employer Behavior in the Face of Union Organizing Drives," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, vol. 43, April 1990, p. 351.
The results of the poll are based on telephone interviews with 1,009 adults ages 18 and older. Jeffrey M. Jones, "Americans Remain Broadly Supportive of Labor Unions," December 1, 2008, http://www.gallup.com/poll/112717/Americans-Remain-Broadly-Supportive-Labor-Unions.aspx.
The results of the poll are based on telephone interviews with 1,024 adults ages 18 or older. Lydia Saad, "Majority Receptive to Law Making Union Organizing Easier," Gallup, Inc., March 17, 2009, http://www.gallup.com/poll/116863/Majority-Receptive-Law-Making-Union-Organizing-Easier.aspx.
The results of the Rasmussen poll are based on an automated survey of 1,000 adults. Rasmussen Reports, 61% Say Secret Ballot Is Fair Way To Vote For A Union, March 17, 2009, http://www.rasmussenreports.com.
For information on the two surveys, see Bureau of National Affairs, Two Surveys Reach Different Conclusions on Benefits of Card Checks, NLRB Elections, no. 55, March 22, 2006, p. A-5.
The survey was conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation (a social and marketing research firm). Center for Union Facts, Everyone (Including Union Leaders) Prefers Real Elections, accessed February 14, 2012, http://www.unionfacts.com/the-problem/everyone-including-union-leaders-prefers-real-elections.
The survey was prepared by two university professors and conducted by the Eagleton Research Center at Rutgers University. American Rights at Work, Fact Over Fiction: Opposition to Card Check Doesn't Add Up, March 2006, http://www.americanrightsatwork.org/dmdocuments/ARAWReports/IBFactOverFictFinal.pdf.
The following conditions are the general characteristics of a competitive labor market: (1) There are many employers and many workers. Each employer is small relative to the size of the market. (2) Employers and workers are free to enter or leave a labor market and can move freely from one market to another. (3) Employers do not organize to lower wages and workers do not organize to raise wages. Governments do not intervene in labor markets to regulate wages. (4) Employers andworkers have equal access to labor market information. (5) Employers do not prefer one worker over another equally qualified worker. Workers do not prefer one employer over another employer who pays the same wage for the same kind of work. (6) Employers seek to maximize profits; workers seek to maximize satisfaction. Lloyd G. Reynolds, Stanley H. Masters, and Colletta H. Moser, Labor Economics and Labor Relations, 11th ed. (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1998), pp.16-21.
Randall K. Filer, Daniel S. Hamermesh, and Albert E. Rees, The Economics of Work and Pay, 6th ed., New York: Harper Collins, 1996, pp. 376-390. Ronald G. Ehrenberg and Robert S. Smith, Modern Labor Economics: Theory and Public Policy, 7th ed. (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 2000), pp. 251-259. (Hereinafter cited as Ehrenberg and Smith, Modern Labor Economics.)
Kaufman, The Economics of Labor Markets, pp. 277-280.
In competitive labor markets, unions can offset the employment effect of higher wages by trying to persuade consumers to buy union-made goods (e.g., campaigns to "look for the union label"), limiting competition from foreign made goods (e.g., though tariffs or import quotas), or negotiating contracts that require more workers than would otherwise be needed. Kaufman, The Economics of Labor Markets, pp. 276-277. Ehrenberg and Smith, Modern Labor Economics, p. 493.Toke Aidt and Zafiris Tzannatos, Unions and Collective Bargaining: Economic Effects in a Global Environment (Washington: The World Bank, 2002), p. 27.
If unions raise the wages of union workers and lower employment in the union sector, the supply of workers available to nonunion employers may increase, resulting in greater competition for jobs and lower wages for nonunion workers (the "spillover" effect). On the other hand, nonunion employers, in order to discourage workers from unionizing, may pay higher wages (the "threat" effect). Ehrenberg and Smith, Modern Labor Economics, pp. 504-508.
Kaufman argues that labor markets in the United States have become more competitive since World War II. Bruce E. Kaufman, "Labor's Inequality of Bargaining Power: Changes over Time and Implications for Public Policy," Journal of Labor Research, vol. 10, summer 1989, pp. 292-293.
Governments may also intervene in private markets to produce "public" goods (e.g., national defense) or correct instances where the market price of a good does not fully reflect its social costs or benefits—called, respectively, negative and positive "externalities." Air and water pollution are frequently cited as examples of negative externalities; home maintenance and improvements are often cited as examples of positive externalities.
Richard B. Freeman and James L. Medoff, "The Two Faces of Unionism," Public Interest, no. 57, fall 1979, pp. 70-73. Richard B. Freeman, "The Exit-Voice Tradeoff in the Labor Market: Unionism, Job Tenure, Quits, and Separations," Quarterly Journal of Economics, vol. 94, June 1980, pp. 644-645.
Bargaining between employers and workers includes the right of workers to strike (in the private sector) and the right of employers to lock out employees.
The results of research on the wage differential between union and nonunion workers vary. But, in general, most studies find that, after controlling for individual, job, and labor market characteristics, the wages of union workers are in the range of 10% to 30% higher than the wages of nonunion workers. Although the evidence is not conclusive, some studies have concluded that unions reduce earnings inequality in the overall economy. CRS Report RL32553,Union Membership Trends in the United States (pdf), by [author name scrubbed].
What is the main reason for employees to join a union quizlet?
Employees join unions because: They are dissatisfied with how they are treated by employers. They believe a union can improve work situations. Negatively impacts the allocation of organizational resources.
What does a bargaining unit consist of?
In the labor context, a group of two or more employees who share common interests in their terms and conditions of employment and who either: Are represented by a union for the purpose of bargaining over terms and conditions of employment.
What appears to be the strongest reason to join a union?
Dissatisfaction with wages, benefits, and working conditions appears to provide the strongest reason to join a union.
Which of the following terms refers to the group of employees the union will be authorized to represent?
Bargaining unitA group of employees that the Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) has certified as appropriate to be represented by a union for the purposes of collective bargaining.