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About NLRB

Miscellaneous things unions may freely do

There are many things a union may do, before as well as after it is recognized or certified as the bargaining representative of a unit of employees. Some of these have been mentioned already.

As a union, you may

  • Accept recognition from, bargain with, and contract with an employer if an uncoerced majority of the employees you seek to represent has authorized you to represent them. (You may contract with an employer in the construction industry under Section 8(f) of the National Labor Relations Act regardless whether you enjoy majority support.)
  • Ask an employer to agree to recognize you if and when you demonstrate majority status.
  • Ask an employer to maintain neutrality during an organizing campaign.
  • File an election (RC) petition based on evidence that you are supported by at least 30% of employees in an appropriate bargaining unit, unless a petition is barred.
  • Agree with the employer to the terms of a Board-conducted representation election.
  • Ask the Board to review the Regional Director's election decision, if the employer disputes your petition and the Regional Director's decision favors the employer's position.
  • Campaign to win employees' support, provided you do not do anything that tends to interfere with their freedom of choice.
  • Picket with an object of forcing or requiring an employer to recognize you as the representative of an appropriate unit of its employees, subject to the restrictions imposed by Section 8(b)(7)(C), unless such picketing would be unlawful under Section 8(b)(7)(A) or (B). (See "recognitional picketing")
  • Engage in area-standards picketing or handbilling.
  • Engage in informational picketing subject to the limitation set forth in the second proviso to Section 8(b)(7)(C).
  • Have an observer at the election.
  • Challenge, through your observer and for good cause, voters you believe to be ineligible.
  • File with the Board objections to the employer's conduct during the run-up to the election.
  • File with the Board objections to the conduct of the election itself.
  • Fine or discipline a member for violating a properly adopted rule that reflects a legitimate union interest, provided that doing so does not contravene a policy of the Act and union members are free to leave the union and escape the rule.
  • Expel a member for filing a decertification petition.
  • Refuse to deal with an employer representative where you can show, by persuasive evidence, that the presence of that individual would create ill-will and make good-faith bargaining impossible.
  • Enter into an agreement with an employer granting superseniority to union stewards for layoff and recall purposes.
  • Demand that a "Burns successor" employer bargain with you. An employer is a Burns successor with a duty to bargain with you if (1) it acquires a business from a predecessor employer whose employees you represent, (2) it hires a majority of its employees from the predecessor's workforce, and (3) from the employees' perspective, day-to-day life remains largely unchanged. If the employer is a Burns successor, you are entitled to a reasonable period of time to bargain with it before your majority status may be challenged. (You may ask the successor to adopt its predecessor's labor contract, but the successor is free to reject such a request.)
  • Bargain hard, provided that you seek in good faith to reach an agreement.
  • Bargain concerning permissive subjects of bargaining, but not to impasse. (If you strike to force acceptance of your proposal on a permissive subject, the employer's bargaining duty is suspended.)
  • Waive your right to bargain concerning particular subjects, but you may not waive employees' rights to solicit or distribute literature supporting or opposing you.
  • Engage in a strike, except where doing so would be unlawful.
  • Engage in picketing, except where doing so would be unlawful.
  • Repudiate a bargaining relationship at the expiration of a Section 8(f) agreement.
  • File charges with the Board alleging that an employer has violated or is violating the Act.
  • Defend against unfair labor practice allegations in a hearing before an administrative law judge.
  • Appeal the decision of an administrative law judge or Board hearing officer to the NLRB.
  • Petition a federal court of appeals to review an adverse NLRB unfair labor practice decision.
  • Sue in court under Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act for breach of a collective-bargaining agreement.
  • Seek an injunction to preserve the status quo pending arbitration (in so-called "reverse Boys Markets" cases).