2020 Labor Board reforms stopped union boss attempt to block election, resulting in 13-0 vote against union ‘representation’

Last week the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) formally certified the results of a union decertification election in which workers at MDS Boring & Drilling in Houston voted unanimously to remove International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) officials from their workplace. The overwhelming election results were finalized after union officials dropped charges they had filed against the company that could have used by union lawyers to overturn the result.

Ballots were mailed to eligible employees on October 22 after Seth Patrick, an MDS Boring employee, petitioned the NLRB for a vote to remove IUOE officials from his workplace. He filed his petition with free legal assistance from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys, and collected signatures from enough of his coworkers to trigger an NLRB-conducted decertification election.

On November 19, the NLRB tallied the results and announced that the workers had voted unanimously 13-0 to remove IUOE Local 450 officials. However, the NLRB would not then certify the result because union officials had previously filed unfair labor practice charges against MDS Boring that served to delay certification of the election results.

Under the NLRB’s old rules, such “blocking charge” allegations against an employer would have been grounds for cancelling the vote or delaying it for months or even years until the charges were resolved. Using the “blocking charge” tactic, sometimes repeatedly, union officials often trapped workers into union ranks nearly indefinitely, despite overwhelming worker opposition to union affiliation. In states without Right to Work laws that make financial support of unions voluntary, this incentivized union bosses to drag out the process so they could collect more forced dues from workers.

However, thanks to Foundation-backed “blocking charge” reforms adopted by the NLRB in 2020, elections themselves cannot be delayed by union litigation. Instead, a vote is held, and any extraneous litigation occurs after the election results are announced. In the case of MDS Boring, the vote demonstrated that IUOE officials lacked the support of even a single worker, making it far more difficult for union officials to justify a drawn-out effort to remain in power.

“A unanimous vote proved beyond a doubt that MDS Boring workers didn’t want IUOE officials’ so-called ‘representation,’” said National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix. “Under the old system, union officials could have stalled the election for months or years to retain power. Thanks to the new Foundation-backed NLRB reforms, these workers were able to promptly hold the vote, which then demonstrated that each and every worker wanted the union out of their workplace.”

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