“I’ve known Bob Rumson for years and I’ve been operating under the assumption that the reason Bob devotes so much time to shouting at the rain was that he simply didn’t get it. Well, I was wrong. Bob’s problem isn’t that he doesn’t get it. Bob’s problem is that he can’t sell it.”
President Andrew Shepherd (played by Michael Douglas) in The American President.
The NLRB’s Quickie Election Rule just celebrated its first anniversary and you know what? The union election win rate remained the same–about 65%. The total number of union petitions filed to hold elections jumped all the way from 2,141 in the year before the new Rule up to 2,144 last year– a “whopping” gain of 3 elections. NLRB statistics do confirm that the median time from the filing a petition to the election decreased substantially, from 38 days down to 24 days.
So, even though the election cycle, short as it already was, decreased by two weeks, why didn’t the dire predictions of increased unionization occur? Maybe, as some have speculated, it’s too soon to tell what the new Rule will do. Maybe the Unions’ numbers will improve in year two of the Rule.
But, maybe, just like Bob Rumson (as played by Richard Dreyfuss) in The American President, Unions have nothing to sell? The rate of unionization in the private sector has remained flat for years–hovering around 7%. Unions can’t solve difficult problems facing our economy. Unions don’t increase the number of jobs. Unions don’t increase efficiency–in fact, they often add administrative expenses to the cost of operating businesses.
Employees have a plethora of avenues to address workplace concerns– federal agencies like the EEOC, OSHA, DOL; numerous state and local agencies; and a seemingly unlimited supply of plaintiffs’ lawyers. Maybe employees have realized that the cost of union dues and the risk of strikes and labor unrest are simply not worth the uncertain benefit of bringing in third party representation.
Well, I guess we’ll just have to see what year two of the Quickie Election Rule brings. As readers of this blog are aware, just like the NLRB before it, the DOL threw Unions another election year favor with its revised Interpretation of the Persuader Rule. If that survives multiple legal challenges (including the lawsuit we are handling) maybe Unions can start adding to their membership rolls. If so, that would happen through scaring employers off from hiring consultants and labor lawyers who help employers comply with the labor laws and communicate with their employees the real facts about unionization. After all, Unions aren’t doing so well with voters (I.e., employees) who know the truth.