Throughout this essay, I will discuss the differences between the following methods of obtaining recognition: NLRB elections and card check agreements (voluntary recognition via signed authorization cards). In addition, I will discuss the pros and cons of each method and which I believe more accurately reflects employee desires.
NLRB elections and voluntary recognition are the most popular methods, usually used by unions, of obtaining recognition. Other methods of obtaining recognition are Gissel bargaining orders; successor; accretion, and after acquired store. However, we will concentrate on NLRB elections and voluntary recognition as it pertains to the scope of this paper.
According to General Counsel Richard Maroko of New York Hotel & Motel Trades Council, AFL-CIO, NLRB election is the most common method for determining employee choice, the NLRB regulated election is, at its core, a secret ballot election. The NLRB is responsible for ensuring that the conditions in which the election and the period leading to it are free from any activity that may unduly influence employees.
On the other hand (quoting Labor Lawyer Richard Maroko), “voluntary recognition takes place completely outside of the NLRB context, where an employer agrees to recognize a union upon a showing of majority support.” Generally, employee support is shown through signed authorization cards rather than secret ballot.
The differences between the above methods lie in the fact that the former is represented by “private ballot elections” under the supervision of the NLRB while the latter is represented by “card checks conducted in public” outside the supervision of the NLRB.
NLRB elections provide certain protective features – the privacy of the voting booth; the secret ballot, and governmental oversight. On the other hand, its campaign can create a hostile and adversarial relationship whereas an employer (e.g., Wal-Mart) intent on resisting workers’ self-organization can drag out legal proceedings for years, fearing little more than an order to post a written notice in the workplace promising not to repeat unlawful conduct.
Proponents (most unions since the late 70s and, in particular, University of Minnesota Labor Professor Erik Peterson, PhD) argued that card check agreements build trust between union and employer and avoid expending public and private resources on unnecessary election campaigns. In turn, critics (e.g., http://www.laborlawyers.com) argued that it lost certain protective features of the NLRB elections – In a decision that overturns more than 40 years of precedent, the National Labor Relations Board recently announced that the “recognition bar,” which precludes a decertification election for 12 months after an employer recognizes a union, does not apply when that recognition is voluntary, based on a card check. Dana Corp.; Metaldyne Corp. 351 NLRB No. 28 (2007).
Personally, I believed the results of NLRB elections more accurately reflects employee desires, simply, because of its protective features – the privacy of the voting booth; the secret ballot, and governmental oversight. In the same vein (facing the reality of the current state of unions), I empathized with unions going the route of card check agreements, simply, because they build trust between union and employer and avoid expending public and private resources on unnecessary election campaigns.
In conclusion, I discussed the differences between the following methods of obtaining recognition: NLRB elections and card check agreements (voluntary recognition via signed authorization cards). In addition, I discussed the pros and cons of each method and which I believed more accurately reflects employee desires.