Biden NLRB announces rulemaking to expand union boss power to block decertification votes and trap workers in union ranks opposed by rank-and-file

Washington, DC (June 24, 2022) – National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix today slammed the National Labor Relations Board’s announcement that it would be initiating rulemaking to overturn 2020 reforms that strengthened the ability of rank-and-file workers to hold votes to remove unwanted union representation:

“With this announcement, the Biden NLRB has signaled its abandonment of any pretense of protecting the free choice rights of workers opposed to union affiliation. While the Foundation-backed 2020 reforms provided much-needed protections of the right of workers to vote in secret on union ‘representation,’ the Biden-appointed majority is showing once again that its priority is protecting union boss power, even when it means undermining the clear, statutory rights of employees covered by the National Labor Relations Act.

“By seeking to destroy these modest checks on union boss control, the Biden NLRB will make it easier for workers to be trapped in union ranks, including forced dues payment, even when a majority of workers oppose union officials’ so-called ‘representation.’ This move may serve the interests of the Big Labor politicos who helped put Biden and his allies in Congress in office, but it is a blatant attack on the rights of the rank-and-file workers of America, who have overwhelmingly chosen not to affiliate with a labor union.”

Pro-Voting Reforms in Crosshairs of Union-Label NLRB

The 2020 reforms now targeted by the Biden NLRB changed how the agency deals with union “blocking charges,” which are filed by union officials to prevent rank-and-file employees from exercising their right to vote to remove (or “decertify”) a union.

Under old rules, union officials could block workers’ requested votes from taking place for months or even years by making any type of allegations against the employer. When applied properly, the 2020 changes prevent “blocking charges” from stopping an election in most cases, and permit unfair labor practice charges surrounding an election to be taken up usually only after a vote tally has been released.

In some Foundation cases, NLRB bureaucrats have blocked employee-requested elections based on “blocking charges” alleging employer misconduct unrelated to the workers’ desire to oust the union, or even based on supposed employer wrongdoing that took place outside of the employee unit seeking such a vote.

The NLRB in 2020 also substantially eliminated the so-called “voluntary recognition bar.” Union officials used this scheme to block workers from requesting a secret-ballot election after a union was installed as a monopoly bargaining agent through an abuse-prone “card check” drive.

“Card check” bypasses the NLRB secret-ballot process and lets union officials demand so-called “authorization cards” directly from workers – conduct that would be patently illegal in any secret-ballot setting.

The NLRB in 2020 instead reinstated a system secured by Foundation staff attorneys for workers in the 2007 Dana Corp. NLRB decision, which permitted workers to challenge the result of a “card check” drive by petitioning for a secret-ballot vote. Thousands of workers took advantage of the Dana process post-2007, but the Obama NLRB voided employees’ Dana rights in 2010.

Additionally, the NLRB in 2020 changed its rules to crack down on construction industry schemes through which employers and union bosses unilaterally install a union in a workplace without first providing proof of majority union support among the workers. Foundation staff attorneys represented a victim of such a scheme in a key case (Colorado Fire Sprinkler, Inc.) that ended when a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel unanimously reversed the Obama Board and ruled for the worker who had been unionized despite no evidence of majority employee support for the union.

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in around 250 cases nationwide per year.

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