Thursday, June 23, 2011

New rules for union elections

Much controversy about the new rules for NLRB elections for union organizing.  Unions have long protested that companies intentionally delay elections to brainwash workers against collective bargaining. On the other hand, companies maintain that unions start their campaigns for months before filing with NLRB and that they need time to make their case.  Elections typically take place within two months after a union files with NLRB.  According to WSJ, the new rules would "aim to curb unnecessary litigation; streamline procedures before and after elections; and enable the use of electronic communications, such as requiring employers to give union organizers access to electronic files containing workers' addresses and email addresses when available."

Unions represent only 7% of private sector workers.  There were 1571 elections last year and unions won two-thirds of them.  Election volume has trended downward; there were 3536 elections in 1990, of which unions won 50%.  Fewer than 100,000 workers are organized through NLRB elections each year.  Union market share continues to decline because of declining employment in workplaces that are already organized. 

The Detroit Lions have never been to a Super Bowl.  The Cubs have not been to the World Series in over 100 years.  Some losing streaks cannot be cured by changing the rules of the game.  The new NLRB policies do nothing to change the fundamental problems unions face today -- that union wages and work rules make companies noncompetitive and erode job security, companies with high profit margins employ knowledge workers who do not identify with unions, and the least educated workers who might be most open to unions work in low margin service jobs. 

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