Union Authorization Cards

Must you recognize a union claiming to hold authorization cards from a majority of employees? The short answer is “no”.   An employer may lawfully decline to recognize a union based solely on its claim that it has a majority of employees “signed up.” Although there are many sound reasons for declining recognition, a critical reason for doing so is compliance with the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The union may not in fact have majority support in an appropriate unit, despite its claims, and recognition of a minority union by an employer—a union that does not truly represent a majority of its employees—is unlawful.Moreover, the possession of signed authorization cards does not necessarily mean that a majority of employees truly desire union representation. While the union may have signed cards from a majority of employees, those who have signed may not be covered “employees” under the NLRA. Further, the matter of what constitutes an appropriate bargaining unit requires considerable analysis—and in many cases, a formal finding by the National Labor Relations Board. Authorization cards by a simple majority of the entire workforce do not mean there are signed cards from a majority of the appropriate bargaining unit. Additionally, merely glancing at signatures does little to reveal whether the employees willfully and knowingly signed the authorization card absent coercion and fully cognizant of the implications of doing so. Finally, recognizing a union based on majority sign-up cedes the employer’s right to launch its own campaign—as well as the rights of its employees to vote in a confidential Board-conducted election.

That’s 30 For Now…For What It’s Worth