U.S. employers charged with violating federal labor law in 4 out of 10 union elections


U.S. employers are charged with an unfair labor practice in four out of 10 (41.5 percent) of union election campaigns.

Data from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) shows U.S. employers are willing to use a wide range of legal and illegal tactics to frustrate the rights of workers to form unions and collectively bargain. These tactics include:

  • Interfering with employee rights – 29 percent.
  • Threats and coercive statements – 18.2 percent.
  • Coercive rules – 7.7 percent.
  • Retaliation/firing – 16.2 percent.
  • Interrogation – 7.3 percent.
  • Coercive action, surveillance – 13.9 percent.
  • Coercion of employees – 29.3 percent.
  • Changes in working conditions/terms – 17.3 percent.
  • Firing, layoffs, refusal to hire – 19.9 percent.
  • Retaliation for reporting to NLRB – 6.3 percent.
  • Discipline – 14.9 percent.
  • Bad faith bargaining – 27 percent.
  • Repudiation/modification of contract – 18.5 percent.
  • Withholding information – 12.5 percent.
  • Refusal to bargain – 18.6 percent.

The recent union busting campaign waged by Amazon against warehouse workers trying to unionize in Bessemer, Ala. is just the latest egregious example.

Employers are charged with violating federal law in 41.5 percent of all union election campaigns, EPI says. And one out of five union election campaigns involves a charge that a worker was illegally fired for union activity.

“This is beyond unacceptable,” Eve Tahmincioglu, EPI director of communications. “The constant deployment of union busting tactics is suppressing the rights and wages of working people.

“The results of the election at the Amazon fulfillment center in Bessemer, Ala., reveal a broken union election system,” she said. “It is clear that if policymakers fail to reform our nation’s Labor law system, they are effectively denying workers a meaningful right to a union and collective bargaining.”

The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act – passed in the U.S. House and pending in the Senate – includes many critical reforms that will help ensure workers have a meaningful right to organize and bargain collectively by streamlining the process when workers form a union, bolstering workers’ chances of success at negotiating a first agreement, and holding employers accountable when they violate workers’ rights.

“The PRO Act is needed to restore workers’ rights to join together and bargain for a better life,” Tahmincioglu said.

For more information on the EPI study, visit go.epi.org/unlawful.



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