Union Election Petitions Increasing Dramatically

By: Attorneys Dean R. Dietrich and Justin Andrews

A recent announcement from the National Labor Relations Board shows that the number of union representation petitions has increased dramatically in the past nine months. The number of election petitions filed in the first nine months of the federal fiscal year (October 1 – June 30) has surpassed the total number of petitions that were filed in the entire prior fiscal year (October 1, 2020 – September 30, 2021).

Additionally, there has been a significant increase in unfair labor practice charges over the past nine months.  All of this suggests that employers of every size must be diligent in taking steps to avoid union representation.

Employers need to be sensitive to employee communications and responses to employee concerns.  One of the most significant reasons that employees will seek to form a union is the belief (whether true or not) that the employer does not care about the employees and does not listen or respond to their concerns.  Communication with employees and being sensitive to the workplace culture is an important strategy that employers must follow to avoid employees seeking union representation.  Employers certainly need to be sensitive to wages and fringe benefits for its employees, but often the lack of communication can do more damage to the employer/employee relationship than not maintaining the highest level of benefits.

Employers also need to be ready in the event the employees seek union representation.  This means educating managers about union activities and the proper things to say in a discussion with employees about unions.  Employers cannot threaten or make promises to employees that are designed to circumvent a request for union representation.  There is a growing concern the NLRB will aggressively pursue unfair labor practice charges against an employer that seeks to interfere with the employees right to pursue union representation.

These are very challenging times for employers, especially considering the limitations on available persons to fill positions.  Employers need to make sure they are doing everything possible to be attractive to potential employees and at the same time strive to avoid employees pursuing union representation.

If you have questions on this article or other employment matters, please do not hesitate to contact Dean or Justin at 715-839-7786.