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ANALYSIS: NLRB Stats Show Union Elections Still in Slowdown Mode

Aug. 17, 2020, 6:02 PM

The coronavirus-activated brakes applied by the National Labor Relations Board to the union representation process could still be heard grinding as the year passed the halfway point, according to NLRB election data analyzed by Bloomberg Law.

The NLRB oversaw only 432 representation elections in first-half 2020, down 26% from 583 elections in first-half 2019. Unions in first-half 2020 won 315 elections, down 30% from 447 in the comparable period of 2019. That means that labor actually tallied more wins by the midpoint of 2019 than elections of any sort—wins or losses—by mid-2020.

All told, unions successfully organized 16,013 workers through the NLRB election process in the first half of the year, down 30% from 23,018 in first-half 2019.

It wasn’t just about volume. Unions’ success rate in these elections also dropped off, from 76.7% of representation elections in H1 2019 to 72.9% in H1 2020. The share of eligible workers organized through the NLRB process also fell, from 70% to 66.3%.

One silver lining for labor: The NLRB oversaw only 52 decertification elections in the first half of the year, down 47% from the year before. And unions were able to retain 48% of all workers at risk in these elections, compared with only 38% in first-half 2019.

Other interesting observations from Bloomberg Law’s midyear report:

—The West Coast and Mid-Atlantic states experienced both the most union wins and the best union win rates.

—Unions in right-to-work states actually had the same win rate as those in states without right-to-work laws. But the number of union wins fell only 4.9% in right-to-work states from H1 2019 to H1 2020, while in non-right-to-work states, total union wins fell 34.9%.

—Of the 10 most active unions, only the United Food & Commercial Workers and the Security, Police and Fire Professionals saw more election wins in H1 2020 than in H1 2019.

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