Union Organizing in National Labor Relations Board Elections

By Dorian Warren |

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Is the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) broken? Yes. But does that mean it is irrelevant for workers attempting to organize? No. As data in this paper shows, particularly when focused on certain demographic groups, labor unions are still using the NLRB, and in many cases, very effectively.

This paper examines the use of the NLRB election process since 2000, and especially from 2008 to 2012. The author finds that while the majority of new private sector union members have not gained recognition through the broken NLRB election process, the data show a significant number of workers who do in fact gain representation through NLRB elections. The data also show a notable decline in the numbers of workers gaining unionization through the NLRB, though at the same time, the “win” rates of workers who do use the process have increased over the last decade.

Based on analysis of original data on the demographics of those organized using the NLRB process, the win rates for workers in NLRB elections increases with the diversity of the workplace. Specifically,workers of color, women, and especially women of color overwhelmingly vote in favor of unionization through the NLRB election process.

Dorian T. Warren is a Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, an MSNBC Contributor, and Board Chair of the Center for Community Change. He is the Host and Executive Producer of “Nerding Out” on MSNBC’s digital platform, shift.msnbc.com.