Union Free America

Decertifying a Union in Private Employment

Most private jobs are covered by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The ones that aren't are with the railroads and airlines.  The NLRA has provisions for employees who no longer want a union to get rid of it.

Generally the process involves getting 30 percent of your coworkers to sign a petition calling for a "decertification" election and then getting a majority of your fellow employees to vote to oust the union.  That may sound difficult but the National Labor Relations Board conducts lots of decertification elections every year and in most cases the employees win their freedom.

Here again the deck is stacked against freedom.  People who want a union can file a petition for an election to certify a union at almost any time but there are some time restrictions on when a petition to decertify a union can be filed.  This will depend on whether there is already a union contract in effect and the length of the contract.  Before you start a decertification campaign get some answers to questions like this.  There is some good information available about this on the Internet.  If you can't find it, let us know and we will give you some pointers.

The NLRB has a petition form called a "Form NLRB 502" but it doesn't include a place for signatures.  You have to make up your own form for that.  It can be either with several names on a sheet of paper or on individual cards.  Cards are probably best.  The wording can be pretty simple.  Something like "We the undersigned employees of _____ no longer want Local____ of the ____ Union to represent us. We want the NLRB to conduct an election to let us vote on whether the union will continue to represent us." If you want help with the wording for a petition or card, let us know and we will work with you on this.

If you are considering trying to decertify a union you should do some groundwork before you contact a government agency.  Most of the people who work for agencies like the NLRB have a background with the unions and strong ties to unionism.  It is possible that if you contact them for information about decertifying a union the union will know about it before the information even reaches you.

The more advance planning and preparation you can do before the union finds out what you're up to, the better will be your chances of success.

If you have specific questions about this, send us an e-mail and we will try to get you the information you need. 

The National Labor Relations Act also has provisions for "deauthorizing" a union shop. If you are in a union shop and decertifying the union isn't in the cards, you may want to consider petitioning the NLRB for an election to take away the authorization for the union shop.  We would be happy to work with you on that.  The National Right to Work Foundation has some good information about deauthorizing a union shop on its web page.

Jobs with the railways and airlines are covered by the Railway Labor Act.  The folks who wrote the Railway Labor Act couldn't imagine not having unions so the only way to get rid of a union under that law is to replace it with another. The National Mediation Board's rules may help you get rid of an unwanted union.  The way it works to become a representative you have to get a majority. Anyone can file a petition to represent the unit. If there is an election and nobody gets a majority of all the members in the unit the union is out. Let us know if you would like more information on this.

Another way to go about this if you work for a railroad or airline and you want to be Union Free is to write to your representatives in Congress and ask them to change the law.  Don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen.

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