The NLRB has just forced nine Brooklyn condo workers to continue another year’s payment of union dues after they attempted to decertify their union (United Workers of America Local 621) in 2012. The reason: the workers submitted their paperwork too early.
An NLRB administrative law judge ruled in the workers’ favor, but the NLRB overturned that judge’s decision saying, “Contrary to the judge, we find that premature revocations of dues check-off authorizations do not become valid upon certification of de-authorization election results.”
Union decertification is a nearly impossible task, but the NLRB makes it even harder with this ruling. According to Russ Brown, union decertification is an agonizingly difficult process because there is only a 30-day window of time near the end of the third year of a union’s contract for employees to vote for decertification. But this difficult process becomes an impossible process when the union decides to avoid the 30-day window by agreeing to a new contract before the window even opens. The union can agree to a new contract before the 30-day window over and over again, effectively blocking employees from voting for decertification.
The NLRB’s ruling should not be surprising, since it has previously shown gross union favoritism by ruling that employers’ handbooks cannot require union employees to be courteous to members of the public. (Let’s also remember that one of the major purposes of the NLRA, which spawned the politically appointed NLRB, is to “encourage” collective bargaining.)
So then how can people get rid of unwanted union representation? Fortunately, there is light at the end of the decades-long compulsory tunnel. The Washington Examiner has done a week-long series highlighting the eroding influence, power, and relevance of labor unions. In this atmosphere of waning union influence, innovative and pro-worker reforms have been advanced.
Russ Brown champions union de-authorization, as opposed to outright decertification, because a de-authorization election can be held at any time and is therefore harder for a union to circumvent. De-authorization is made possible by a little-known provision in the NLRA that allows employees to remove the security clause from a union contract, giving workers the options to resign their membership and stop paying union dues.
There is also the pro-worker Employee Rights Act, which would require employees to vote for continued union representation after the bargaining unit “experiences turnover, expansion, or alteration by merger of unit represented employees exceeding 50 percent of the bargaining unit.” This legislation is imperative because the Center for Union Facts reports that only 10 percent of employees vote for their union!
If the NLRB is going to enable the perpetuation of compulsory unionism, workers should fight back by using de-authorization to escape unwanted representation. More importantly, they should support the Employee Rights Act so they can vote down representation if it is no longer desirable.
To read more about union members’ dissatisfaction with their bosses, click here for Aloysius Hogan’s summary of Wicomico school teachers’ attempt at decertification.